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Jordan Poole shines for Michigan in smothering 69-60 road victory over Minnesota

The Wolverine defense stifled the Gophers to 22% shooting and .53 ppp in the first half to build a double-digit lead.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Minnesota David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Over a week ago, Michigan’s defense turned in its worst defensive performance of the year, allowing 75 points and 1.14 point per possession in the loss at Penn State.

After stifling Bruno Fernando and Maryland Saturday, the Wolverines did one better Thursday night in Minneapolis.

John Beilein and company left Minnesota with a 69-60 road victory to improve to 24-3 (13-3) ahead of Sunday’s home contest versus Michigan State.

The nation’s second-best efficiency defense put on a clinic to fuel a double-digit first half lead. Jon Teske, Zavier Simpson and the Wolverine defense gave no quarter. The 7-footer swatted five shots, while the junior point guard swiped three steals.

Gopher forward Jordan Murphy muscled for two early layups, but was held scoreless for the remainder of the half. The hosts mustered just .53 points per possession and 22 percent from the field in the opening frame.

While he eventually managed 18 points, the 6-foot-8 Murphy fought foul trouble, ceding much of the interior production to freshman center Daniel Oturu. The freshman center tied Murphy for the scoring lead, and also snagged 12 boards for a double-double.

Jordan Poole was the lone bright spot offensively early, canning three triples in the first half en route to 11 points. The rest of the Wolverines managed just 35 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes.

He finished with 22 points (8-of-16 overall, 5-of-10 on threes), while Ignas Brazdeikis used a strong second half to end up with 10 of his own.

The shots started dropping in the second half. Treys by Poole, Teske and Isaiah Livers fueled a 46 percent (13-of-28) overall. A running fadeaway from the right corner upped the Michigan advantage to 53-33 with 10 minutes to go.

Simpson facilitated with 12 assists on the evening.

Richard Pitino’s team, sitting squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, momentarily clawed back. Dupree McBrayer capped a 7-0 run with a steal and dunk to close the gap to 53-40.

After Charles Matthews hit a transition three — the sixth different Wolverine with a trey on the night — Michigan stretched its lead to 58-43. Deep makes by Teske made it 64-47 at the final media timeout.

The big man poured in 17 points (7-of-11) and seven boards to pair well with his defensive prowess. Matthew chipped in nine points, as well as nine rebounds.

The road triumph draw Michigan even with the Spartans atop the Big Ten. The next edition of the in-state rivalry tips off at 3:45 p.m ET Sunday on CBS.