Furman gives Minnesota a scare

MINNEAPOLIS — Furman looked like it could join the list.

Minnesota's Joey King goes for a rebound against Furman's Geoff Beans on Monday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — Furman looked like it could join the list.

New Jersey Institute of Technology; Eastern Michigan; Incarnate Word; Gardner-Webb; Eastern Washington; St. Francis (Pa.); Texas Southern.

The list of obscure teams that have knocked off Big Ten Conference teams in non-conference men's basketball games this season.

Furman entered Monday's game with the University of Minnesota with a 2-7 record. One of the losses was 93-54 to No. 2-ranked Duke, and more-telling was a 75-40 loss to the College of Charleston.

The small (enrollment about 2,700) Baptist college's most-famous graduates are singer Amy Grant, potato chip company founder Herman Lay and the South Carolina governor who went "missing" with a mistress in Argentina, Mark Sanford.


The school has produced a lot of athletes: quarterback and Super Bowl coach Sam Wyche, quarterback David Whitehurst, former Viking Jerome Felton, linebacker Orlando Ruff (not to be confused with P-B sports writer Pat Ruff), and a whole bunch of pro golfers (Beth Daniel, Brad Faxon, Dottie Pepper, Betsy King and Bruce Fleisher).

But the only really noteworthy college basketball player from Furman was Frank Selvy, who later played with the Lakers but was best known for scoring 100 points in a college game.

In 1954.

Horrible record

Recently, Furman went 9-21 under first-year head coach Niko Medved (a one-time Gophers student manager and a Minnesota assistant coach for one season in 2006-07). The Paladins — gotta like that nickname though; it's a type of knight — were 6-24 the year before Medved took over. They haven't made the NCAA tournament since 1980; or the NIT since 1991.

But — after falling behind 32-16 late in the first half Monday night — Furman battled back and inched ahead of the Gophers midway through the second half. The Paladins, after looking lost offensively the first 15 minutes of the game, had gone on a 17-8 run late in the first half to cut that 16-point deficit to seven by intermission.

Oddly, the Gophers never seemed physically sluggish but lacked some focus offensively in the first half and defensively in the second half, when Furman at one stretch made 12 of 14 shots.

The latter part of the second half was back-and-forth until the last couple of minutes, when freshman guard Nate Mason finally got Minnesota ahead by more than one basket by making his fourth three-pointer of the second half, giving the home team a 79-74 lead.


A win is a win

In the end, the numbers painted a solid picture. Joey King scored 19 points — 13 in the first half — and several of his usual hustle plays that don't show up in the box score. Mason scored 14. Andre Matthieu had 16 points, seven assists and five steals. Mo Walker scored seven of his 11 points in the final five minutes, plus made two nice defensive plays.

And of course there were the numbers on the scoreboard, showing a 10-point win.

And keeping them from joining the list of Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Nebraska and Rutgers.

Who had lost to that list of teams nobody's heard of.

The Gophers and coach Richard Pitino were keeping it positive in postgame comments.

"You've got to give Furman and Niko (Medved) a lot of credit," Pitino said. "They had a great offensive game plan and hit a lot of tough shots. Their players made a lot of great plays, so you've got to give them credit.

"Looking at our past games, we were blowing teams out — we didn't do that last year. This was tough for us to win because everyone in the building, myself included, when they hit those tough shots was like, 'Oh my goodness,' and we found a way to win. I don't know that we do that last year."


"We definitely needed this to kind of bring us back down and let us know that we can still be beat any day," Matthieu said. "I think that was perfect timing."

"Blowing teams out really doesn't help that much, so getting a good punch from Furman today, it was great to test our character and it was really good to pull out the win," King said.

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