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Men's College Basketball: Gophers fight off pesky Nebraska-Omaha

MINNEAPOLIS — Deandre Mathieu scored 18 of his career-high 27 points in the second half as the host Golden Gophers extended their winning streak to five games by holding off the pesky Mavericks of Nebraska-Omaha Friday 92-79.

Minnesota (10-2) also received 18 points and 10 rebounds from Andre Hollins and 19 points off the bench from Malik Smith, who shot 5-of-8 from 3-point range. Elliott Eliason contributed 10 points, nine rebounds and four steals while Austin Hollins had 10 points and six assists.

Meanwhile, it was another solid showing for Nebraska-Omaha (8-4), which won at Nevada six days ago and also suffered close losses at Iowa (eight points), UNLV (three) and Drake (eight). The Mavericks, who trailed in this one by four points with under four minutes to play, were led by CJ Carter, Alex Phillips and Devin Patterson with 15 points apiece.

Caleb Steffensmeier hit a 3-pointer right before the first-half buzzer — the Mavericks’ 10th 3-pointer of the opening half — to forge a 44-44 tie at intermission. They remained close for the first five minutes of the second half before Andre Hollins’ basket and Mathieu’s 3-pointer ignited a 13-4 run that turned a 56-54 edge into a comfortable 11-point lead.

Smith had eight straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, during the key run. The Mavericks stayed relatively close and Devin Patterson’s layup with 3:14 remaining sliced their deficit to 83-79, but they did not score again as a jumper and two free throws by Mathieu highlighted a game-ending 9-0 run by the Gophers.

NOTES: While Nebraska-Omaha made 10 3s in the first half, it only made four two-point baskets during the opening 20 minutes. In the second half, the Mavericks did not make a single 3-pointer, missing all eight of their attempts. ... Mathieu’s previous career high was 17 points, accomplished against Coastal Carolina and duplicated against Chaminade last month. ... Nebraska-Omaha hung tough on the glass, getting outrebounded by only two, and the Mavericks finished a crisp 17-of-20 from the foul line.