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Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe, left, pulls down a rebound over Akron center Mike Bardo during the first half Wednesday in Minneapolis. (Associated Press)

Gophers stave off upset bid by Akron

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Blake Hoffarber scored 13 points to go over 1,000 for his career, Trevor Mbakwe added 13 points and 13 rebounds and No. 21 Minnesota beat Akron 66-58 Wednesday night.

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Steve McNees scored 12 for Akron, which led 32-27 at halftime and gave the bigger and stronger Gophers all they could handle for the first 30 minutes.

Ralph Sampson III converted a three-point play and Rodney Williams threw down a rim-rattling dunk during a 12-3 Gophers run that gave Minnesota (10-1) the lead for good in the second half.

Playing without point guard Al Nolen for the fifth consecutive game, the Gophers' offense looked lost in the first half. Minnesota missed 15 of its first 19 shots and finished the half 10 for 36.

After Devoe Joseph hit a three-pointer -- his first field goal -- to tie it at 34 early in the second half, the Gophers stalled again. An angry coach Tubby Smith called two timeouts within 20 seconds to try and get Minnesota going again.

Whatever he told his team, it eventually worked.

Williams finished with 12 points and had four dunks, including an alley-oop from Hoffarber that gave the Gophers an 11-point advantage with 5:45 to play.

Coming off a 35-point loss to Temple on Sunday, the Zips (4-4) hit five of their first 11 3-pointers and forced 10 turnovers in the first half. But as the game wore on, the Gophers size squashed any hopes for an upset.

Minnesota outrebounded Akron 48-36 and blocked eight shots. Mbakwe and Sampson also altered several shots and forced Akron to shoot mostly jumpers. The Zips finished 10 of 31 on 3-point tries.

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