ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - With his backcourt partner injured again, Blake Hoffarber needed to be almost flawless.
The Minnesota senior was up to the challenge.
Hoffarber had 12 points and six assists and didn't turn the ball over once, and the 15th-ranked Golden Gophers outlasted Michigan 69-64 on Saturday night. Minnesota snapped a four-game losing streak in the series and avenged a 28-point loss at Michigan last season.
The Gophers did it despite a right ankle injury that limited guard Al Nolen to 11 minutes.
``We knew everybody had to step up. We didn't want what happened here last year to happen again,' Hoffarber said. ``Injuries are part of the game so you have to be ready when things like this happen.'
Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III scored 13 points apiece for Minnesota.
The Gophers (15-4, 4-3 Big Ten) trailed 41-40 before going on a 12-3 run in the second half. Chip Armelin scored twice in a row on similar drives from the right wing, and Rodney Williams added a 3-pointer to make it 52-44.
After that, Michigan (11-9, 1-6) could pull no closer than six points until a 3-pointer by Tim Hardaway Jr. made it 65-60 with 29.1 seconds left. Hardaway finished with 20 points for the Wolverines, who have lost six straight.
Hoffarber scored nine points in the final 4:29.
The Gophers outrebounded Michigan 38-13. They also shot 63 percent, but they struggled from the free throw line, going 13 of 23, and turned the ball over 17 times. The Wolverines were able keep it close by going 12 of 35 from 3-point range.
After scoring the last seven points of the first half, Minnesota scored the first seven of the second to take a 38-29 advantage. The Wolverines fought back, finally going ahead 41-40 on a 3-pointer by Darius Morris.
The lead was short-lived. Michigan relied heavily on 3-pointers against Minnesota's zone and couldn't quite make enough of them.
``As good as we can be against a zone at times, we weren't today,' Michigan coach John Beilein said. ``Their length threw us off a little bit.'
Nolen missed five games earlier this season with a stress fracture in his right foot, but he'd been back for about a month.
``He was playing extremely well,' Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. ``Al's been the key to our resurgence over the last few weeks.'
Nolen was on crutches after Saturday night's game.
``Any time you lose your point guard, it's tough, but I'm glad everyone stepped up and we could win in his absence,' Sampson said. ``It took all of us to do it.'
Minnesota got off to a sloppy start, turning the ball over five times before the first official timeout and starting 1 of 6 from the field. Hardaway gave Michigan a 9-3 lead when he drove the baseline for a nifty reverse layup, and Zack Novak made it 12-5 with a 3-pointer.
Mbakwe then scored six straight points for Minnesota.
With the score tied at 15, the Wolverines had only one starter on the floor, but Hardaway and Stu Douglass made 3-pointers and Novak came back in and added another shot from long distance to give Michigan a 24-15 lead.
The Gophers answered with nine straight points of their own, slowing the Wolverines with their zone. Minnesota led 31-29 at halftime.
Michigan attempted 19 of its 25 shots from 3-point range in the first half.
After the game, Michigan players had a brief meeting after Beilein left the locker room.
``We just talked stuff out,' Hardaway said. ``We want to make sure we don't keep making the same mistakes down the stretch.'
Foul trouble limited Michigan's Evan Smotrycz to 16 minutes and Jordan Morgan to 23. Morgan's fourth foul came on a careless reach-in moments after Morris' shot put Michigan up 41-40.
``Evan and Jordan are in foul trouble every game,' Beilein said. ``Our bench actually did pretty well, but it doesn't help us as much on offense. Jordan's fourth foul is a perfect example of what we've been dealing with all year, that he has to continue to try to work at.'
Mbakwe again came off the bench. He hasn't started since being arrested on Jan. 11 after he sent an ex-girlfriend a message on Facebook. The woman had previously gotten a restraining order against Mbakwe, and she turned him in to police after seeing the message.
Mbakwe admitted to sending the message, but pleaded not guilty to the charge of violating the restraining order.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved