The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers lost their opening round game to No. 5 Duke, 89-71 in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament held in the Bahamas.
The Gophers never had a lead but courageously stayed with the Blue Devils through all 40 minutes. However, every time Minnesota seemed to have a chance to surge back against Duke and put together a run, the Blue Devils seemed to have the remedy to put the Gophers back down.
All five Duke starters ended up with double-digit points, with senior Seth Curry leading the way with 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
Forward Mason Plumlee gave the Gophers all kinds of problems underneath the basket. The senior dominated the frontcourt for the Blue Devils, recording a double-double in the first half while finishing with 20 points and 17 rebounds.
For the Gophers, senior Rodney Williams finished with a solid effort, scoring 16 points and adding seven rebounds in the loss. He was the most consistent player for Minnesota, finishing with dunks and making several acrobatic blocks on the other end, putting together a show for the NBA scouts in the audience.
Minnesota struggled in the rebounding game, especially in the first half, but finished the game with 34 boards, compared to 31 from Duke.
Duke shot the ball with a high percentage and were able to make a majority of their three pointers, bucketing eight threes in 10 attempts. The Gophers, however, seemed tentative with the three and made only 4 shots on 16 attempts.
Duke’s sophomore point guard Quinn Cook had a breakout performance on Thursday finishing with a career-high 17 points while adding five steals.
On the other end, Gopher point guard Maverick Ahanmisi was a pleasant surprise in the first half finishing with seven points in only six minutes before halftime. He finished with 10 points.
Another player that came off the bench with a vengeance for Minnesota was Trevor Mbakwe. While the power forward only snagged three rebounds, he was able to block two shots to go along with 11 points.
Minnesota will wait to face the loser of Virginia Commonwealth University and Memphis in a Friday afternoon match-up for a shot to play in the 5th/6th place game.