PHILADELPHIA -- Minnesota passed its first true road test of the season on Wednesday night.
Devoe Joseph scored 19 points, including a 3-pointer to start a key second-half stretch, and the Gophers (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) beat Saint Joseph's 83-73.Blake Hoffarber added 14 points for the Gophers (8-1), who were playing their first road game in the United States. Minnesota's only other games off campus were in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.Although Saint Joseph's features an inexperienced group this season, the cozy, 4,200-seat Hagan Arena has always been tough on visitors.Minnesota coach Tubby Smith stood firm in his decision to agree to play at Hagan Arena, rather than the 8,700-seat Palestra or 20,000-seat Wells Fargo Center, as many big time programs do against Saint Joseph's."They play on our campus and we play on their campus," Smith said. "It helps us to go into a hostile arena and get in this environment. We have a lot of guts and some toughness."Trevor Mbakwe had 12 points and 16 rebounds for Minnesota, while Ralph Sampson III and Maurice Walker both had 10 points.Carl Jones led Saint Joseph's with a career-high 29 points and Langston Galloway added 21 for the Hawks (3-6), who have lost four straight.The Gophers led by as many as 13 points late in the first half but saw their lead trimmed to 38-37 3:23 into the second half. But Minnesota hit three 3-pointers, two by Hoffarber, during a decisive 13-0 run over a 3:02 span that gave the Gophers a commanding 51-37 lead with 13:35 left.Joseph and Hoffarber hit consecutive 3-pointers to start the spurt and Hoffarber capped the run with another 3 that gave Minnesota the 14-point lead, its largest of the game."Being on the road in a one-point game it gives them that hope of being in it," Joseph said. "It's always important to have that gap where you keep the crowd and everyone calmed down."Hoffarber was 4-for-8 from the field and made 4-of-6 from 3-point range."I tend to like these venues," he said. "It kind of feels like high school or something."Smith credited the Gophers' defense for the game-changing sequence. During the 13-0 run, the Hawks were 0-for-3 from the field with a turnover, while Minnesota made four of its five attempts."The key is defense," Smith said. "You get stops and it creates opportunities."Saint Joseph's pulled as close as five on four occasions, the last when it was 68-63 with 4:04 left. But Joseph countered with a 3 from the right wing to put the Gophers up 71-63 with 3:51 left."When we were right there, we didn't make that next play," Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said.Saint Joseph's pulled as close as five on four occasions, the last when it was 68-63 with 4:04 left. But Joseph countered with a 3 from the right wing to put the Gophers up 71-63 with 3:51 left.Minnesota has given up 40 3-pointers in their last four games and the Hawks tried but couldn't take advantage of that porous perimeter defense, shooting 9-for-29 from long range, including 3-for-17 in the first half.The Hawks trailed 36-26 at halftime but scored 11 of the first 13 points after the break to pull within 36-37 3:23 into the half. The Hawks opened the second half going 4-for-5 from the field, while the Gophers missed five of their first six shots.