Gophers cruise past Grambling St.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Vincent Grier survived a scare and then made his opponents pay.
Withstanding a hard foul, Grier scored a season-high 25 points and Minnesota scored its most points this year in an 88-64 victory over Grambling State on Wednesday night.
The previous high for Minnesota (7-2) was 85 points in an overtime win at Arizona State on Dec. 5.
Driving for the basket seven minutes into the game, Grier was knocked to the ground by Grambling State's Donte Gordon, who was whistled for an intentional foul.
Grier, in his third game back after missing five games with a broken bone in his left hand, landed with a thud, but fortunately for him and the Gopher faithful it was on his leg.
"I don't know what their intentions were on the hit," Grier said. "You get hard fouls during the game, but it just made me more aggressive."
Spencer Tollackson added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Gophers (7-2), winners of five straight. Jamal Abu-Shamala scored 13 points, Dan Coleman made 12 and Jonathan Williams had five blocks off the bench.
"I thought the guards did a good job of getting the big guys the ball and the big guys did a good job kicking the ball out to the guards when we were doubled and they hit the shots," said Tollackson. "It was a very well-rounded offensive game."
Brion Rush led Grambling State (2-4) with 25 points, including a season-high seven 3-pointers. Jamal Breaux had 10 for the Tigers, who have lost four straight.
"I'm just glad he's not in the Big Ten so we don't see him twice," said Minnesota coach Dan Monson. "He could play anywhere in the country."
The hit on Grier was near the beginning of a 23-6 Minnesota run that was capped by a Rico Tucker behind-the-back pass to Tollackson, while both were in full stride. Tollackson took a step before scoring on a thunderous dunk with 7:38 left. After the foul, Grier had six points during the spurt, including scoring on a drive and four free throws earned when he drove into the paint and was fouled.
"Vince is such a tough kid he bounced back up and I could see a little bit more fire in his eyes," Tollackson said. "When that happened they made it personal."
Grier later scored the first seven second-half points for Minnesota to spark a 14-4 run for a 67-40 lead. Grambling State, which gave up 101 points to Texas A&M; in its previous game, never got closer than 21 points thereafter.
"This was a game where we had to attack inside and he did a great job of giving us an inside presence," Monson said.
Grambling State coach Larry Wright Sr. was not brought to the postgame interview room.
While the Gophers won the game, there may be a loss.
Starting forward J'son Stamper left the game midway through the first half with a right knee injury sustained while battling for a rebound. Monson said the knee would be further examined Thursday morning, but he was not optimistic Stamper would play Friday against South Dakota State.
Playing its first game in a week because of final exams, Minnesota was already without starting guard Moe Hargrow, who scored 20 points in his last game. Monson said Hargrow did not play for an undisclosed violation of team policy. He said Grier would miss Friday's game for a similar violation.
"As I told Santa yesterday when I crawled up on his lap, 'For Christmas can I have a healthy team that represents themselves, the University of Minnesota, the program and the state of Minnesota athletically, academically and socially in a manner that we're all proud of,"' Monson said. "Santa took good notes, and I hope he does that because we've got to get everybody together to get this team to the level we want to play."