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Willis' go-ahead 3-pointer helps Gophers defeat Bulldogs

The Gophers earned back-to-back road victories for the first time since January 2017.
Payton Willis / Gopher Basketball

Despite coming into the game as 12.5 point underdogs, the Minnesota Gophers improved to 7-0 on the season with an 81-76 victory over Mississippi State on Sunday afternoon.

The game got off to a great start for the Gophers, who opened on a 14-0 run. But the Bulldogs responded with a 9-2 run of their own, which gave way to a back-and-forth first half.

The difference for the Gophers was Payton Willis. The senior guard scored 12 of his 24 points in the first half and helped Minnesota head into the halftime up 35-32.

The Gophers used a balanced attack in the second half that saw all five starters score in double figures. With the lead swelling back up to 14 points, Minnesota appeared to be on the verge of earning a big victory on the road.

But the Bulldogs made their comeback thanks to Iverson Molinar, who had a game-high 26 points and tied the game at 76 with 43 seconds to go.

With the game on the line, the Gophers went back to Willis, who drained a go-ahead 3-pointer with 17 seconds to go to help Minnesota earn their first back-to-back victories on the road since January 2017.

The undefeated Gophers will open Big Ten play on Wednesday when they host No. 22 Michigan State.

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