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    Wildcats Bury Gophers For Sixth Straight Time

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Kevin Coble scores a basket past Minnesota's Lawrence Westbrook in the first half.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Kevin Coble scores a basket past Minnesota's Lawrence Westbrook in the first half.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Jan. 20, 2007

    Box Score |  Notes

    MINNEAPOLIS - Vince Scott led Northwestern with 15 points and Kevin Coble added 13 off the bench as the Wildcats picked up their first conference win with a 55-40 victory over Minnesota on Saturday.

    The Wildcats (11-8, 1-5 Big Ten), who have won six straight against Minnesota since 2003, sent the Gophers to their fourth straight defeat.

    "It's important when you're on the road to get a good start, I thought we did that tonight by getting a few steals that led to easy baskets," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. "After that, it seemed like our offense started to click."

    Coble was 6-of-12 off the bench in his first action since missing Northwestern's previous two games with a sprained ankle.

    "It was tough sitting on the sidelines for those couple of games. I got the foot healed up and it is great to be back out there," Coble said.

    Northwestern used its defense to frustrate the Gophers, forcing Minnesota (7-12, 1-4) into a season-worst 33 percent shooting. Minnesota went 17-for-51 from the field, including 3-of-19 from 3-point range.

    Jeff Ryan had four of Northwestern's six steals. He finished with nine points -- including a breakaway dunk -- and three assists.

    The Wildcats showed patience on offense with good ball movement, which led to several easy layups against Minnesota's zone defense. Northwestern scored 30 points in the paint to Minnesota's 18. They led by as many as 18 points and never trailed.

    Dan Coleman pulled Minnesota to 38-28 at 14:15 of the second half with his only 3-pointer of the game. But Northwestern responded with six unanswered - including back-to-back threes by Scott and Coble - to give the Wildcats a 46-28 lead with 8:49 to play. Minnesota, which had two scoreless six-minute stretches during the game, never came closer than 14 points the rest of the way.

     

     

    "Teams get frustrated because we slow the game down so much," Scott said. "Most teams like to push it. When we are hitting it, they aren't able to get out."

    Lawrence McKenzie led Minnesota with 15 points and Coleman added 13. Minnesota's bench had only two points.

    The Wildcats had five first-half steals and had two blocked shots to help limit Minnesota to 20 points on 35 percent shooting (8-for-23) in the first 20 minutes. Northwestern led 29-20 at halftime.

    (The Associated Press contributed to this story.)