Elijah Hawkins sets Gophers single-game assist record in win over IUPUI

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Only one piece of drama remained in the Gophers’ 101-65 blowout win over IUPUI on Tuesday at Williams Arena.

Would Elijah Hawkins get one final assist?

With the game well in hand, the starting point guard remained on the floor with four back-ups, but was stuck on a program-record-tying 16 for nearly six minutes.

Then Hawkins’ bounce pass was finished by with a lay-up form walk-on Erick Reader with under three minutes left. Fans at The Barn roared when Hawkins passed Arriel McDonald’s previous mark set against Wisconsin in 1994. The public-address announcer notes the record and coach Ben Johnson subbed him out of the game.

Hawkins, a transfer from Howard, had only one turnover in 32 minutes played Tuesday. His two points didn’t matter much with how much his teammates made shots.

Over the last three games, Hawkins has 39 total assists, after putting up 11 against Nebraska and Florida Gulf Coast last week. It is also believed to be the first time a player has had double-digit assists in three consecutive games.

Slow starts had hindered the Gophers men’s basketball team at times this season. Not Tuesday against IUPUI — one of the worst teams in the country.

Minnesota led from the opening possession, were up 14 within seven minutes, 30 at the half and 41 in second half in an easy victory.

Minnesota (8-3) was a 23.5-point favorite against skidding Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (3-8), which has lost eight straight games to Division I teams.

The U came into game at 115 in NET ranking, while IUPUI was 352 out of 362 in NET ranking. Minnesota did what they should have abasing a lowly-regarded team.

The Gophers were without Dawson Garcia (ankle), Braeden Carrington (personal reasons) and Jack Wilson (hip). Pharrel Payne (groin) started but was able to be rested and played only 12 minutes.

Carrington said before the game he was stepping away from the program to address his mental health. Mike Mitchell came off the bench to make his first start for the U.

Minnesota led 57-27 at the half, which was just outside the five highest-scoring halves in program history. Ola-Joseph led way with 14 points and Hawkins had 11 assists and no turnovers.

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