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Gophers snap skid with rout

Trevor Mbakwe of the Minnesota Gophers dunks against Iowa in the second half Sunday in Iowa City, Iowa. (Associated Press)

By Luke Meredith, AP Sports Writer

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Trevor Mbakwe scored 22 of his 24 points in the second half and Minnesota snapped a four-game losing streak by pounding Iowa 62-45 Sunday.

Rodney Williams added 13 points for the Gophers (17-8, 6-7 Big Ten), who put an end to their longest skid under coach Tubby Smith by dominating the once-surging Hawkeyes.

Minnesota erased an early deficit with a 24-6 run to end the first half. Mbakwe's layup and jumper pushed the Gophers' lead to 38-23, and Minnesota extended the margin to 48-27 with 8:01 to play.

Bryce Cartwright had 11 points and seven assists to lead Iowa (10-15, 3-10), which shot just 34 percent from the floor and 21 percent (6 of 28) from 3-point range.

The Gophers came into Iowa City in crisis mode, with their NCAA tournament hopes suddenly in question after losing four straight. They left with an emphatic win over an Iowa team that had been playing much better than its record indicates.

After Minnesota's last defeat, at home to Illinois, coach Tubby Smith challenged his team in hopes of snapping the Gophers out of their funk. Smith made just one change to the starting lineup from the last two games though, going with forward Colton Iverson instead of guard Austin Hollins.

It didn't really work much early, as the Gophers scored just six points in the first 10 minutes. But Minnesota got rolling after that, outscoring Iowa 24-6 the rest of the half to jump ahead 30-20.

The Gophers owned the boards early, outrebounding Iowa 21-12 while scoring 12 points off of nine Iowa turnovers.

Minnesota's defense took over in the second half. The Gophers held Iowa to just seven points in the first 12 minutes after the break as their comfortable lead turned insurmountable.

Iverson finished with four points and six rebounds in 28 minutes. But Minnesota's size bothered the Hawkeyes all game, as it outrebounded the Hawkeyes 38-25 and outscored them 34-14 in the paint.

Though Iowa has almost no shot at playing in the NCAA tournament, the Hawkeyes were a missed jumper away from entering Sunday's game on a three-game winning streak.

On Wednesday, Iowa pushed No. 13 Wisconsin -- which went on to hand No. 1 Ohio State its first loss Saturday -- to overtime before falling 62-59. The Hawkeyes nearly won it in regulation, but Cartwright's short jumper from the baseline bounced off the rim and out.

But Iowa's momentum was stunted by the Gophers, who brought the Hawkeyes down to earth with that late first-half run and didn't let up.