IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -Blake Hoffarber scored 24 points, two shy of his career high, and Minnesota pounded struggling Iowa 86-74 on Saturday for its seventh straight win.
Damian Johnson added 13 points and four blocks for the Gophers (11-3, 2-0 Big Ten), who raced out to a 45-20 lead and cruised to their first true road win of the season.
Minnesota jumped ahead by 13 just four minutes into the game and led by as much as 25 midway through the first half. Hoffarber had 17 points in the first half, hitting four 3s, as the Gophers built an insurmountable cushion
Minnesota seemed right at home in just the Gophers' second road game of the season. The Gophers forced Iowa into a season-high 25 turnovers - including a staggering 18 in the first half - and led by at least 12 points the entire second half.
Matt Gatens had 14 points and nine rebounds for Iowa (5-9, 0-2), which lost for the fourth time in six games.
The inexperienced Hawkeyes fell behind by so much so early that the outcome - another Iowa loss - seemed inevitable shortly after tip-off. Iowa threatened to make things mildly interesting early in the second half, sneaking within 55-41. But Minnesota responded with an 11-3 run to jump back ahead 66-44 with 11:57 left, reducing the rest of the affair to a glorified scrimmage.
Iowa closed the game on an 20-6 run, making the final score seem much closer than the game ever was.
Minnesota fell behind by as much as 13 last season in Iowa City before rallying to win 52-49. That rough start seemed to be on the minds of the Gophers, who needed just four minutes to build a 13-point lead on Saturday.
Johnson sandwiched a transition dunk between a pair of Hoffarber 3s to make it 17-4 with 16:01 left in the first half. The flustered Hawkeyes then committed back-to-back turnovers, which Minnesota turned into uncontested baskets that pushed its lead to 21-4.
At that point, the Hawkeyes had twice as many turnovers, eight, as points.
Devron Bostick's layup with 4:25 left in the first half pushed Minnesota's lead to 45-20, though Iowa rallied to close within 49-32 by the break. The Hawkeyes were lucky to even be that close, considering that nine of them turned it over at least once in the first half.
The Gophers played without sophomore center Ralph Sampson III, their leading rebounder and shot blocker. Sampson III sprained his right ankle in practice on Wednesday and watched from the sidelines in street clothes, with his tender ankle in a protective boot. Fellow sophomore Colton Iverson started in Sampson's place and had five rebounds in 21 minutes.
Iowa was also short-handed. Sophomore guard Anthony Tucker, a native of Minnetonka, Minn., has been suspended indefinitely after being arrested on public intoxication charges, leaving the Hawkeyes very thin in the backcourt.
In a season full of disheartening defeats, this was arguably the worst one yet for Iowa. The Hawkeyes had won two of their last three after coach Todd Lickliter's return from surgery to repair a carotid artery, and they played No. 4 Purdue tough in a 67-56 loss on Tuesday.
The Associated Press News Service
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