The Golden Gophers extended their win streak to six games after beating USC, 71-57, on the road Saturday.
Senior forward Rodney Williams posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, bouncing back from the previous game where he scored 2 points in a win against South Dakota State.
The win was notably coach Tubby Smith’s 500th career win, who becomes the 19th active head coach to reach the mark.
Smith was on the hot seat to begin the year after missing the NCAA Tournament the last two years, but after a quick 10-1 start and a likely 12 win record entering conference play, Smith is looking awfully smart of late.
Trevor Mbakwe continued to play well, scoring 12 points and making all six of his free throws coming off the bench.
The Gophers had troubles guarding USC’s big men, especially 7-foot-2-inch Omar Oraby. He scored 15 points, mostly in the second half, leading all scorers.
Seven-footer Dewayne Dedmon was held to just 2 points but had 11 rebounds — five of those were on offense.
The Gophers face two mid-major opponents before starting conference play against Michigan State on New Year’s Eve.
The North Dakota State Bison will visit Williams Arena Tuesday in the first of those two mid-major games.