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Jon Krawczynski / AP Sports Writer, Published December 16 2009

College men's basketball: Hoffarber, Gophers rout Northern Illinois

MINNEAPOLIS – Blake Hoffarber has had great shooting nights before, dating back to his sophomore year in high school when he made a shot from a seated position during a state tournament game that earned him an ESPY award.

He topped them all on Tuesday night against Northern Illinois.

Hoffarber set a school record with eight 3-pointers and scored 26 points to lift Minnesota to an 89-48 victory over the Huskies.

“I felt like I couldn’t miss for a while,” Hoffarber said.

He almost never did.

Hoffarber hit four in a row from long range to help the Gophers (8-3) take control in the first half. He added two more after leaving briefly with an injured left ankle early in the second half. He was 8-for-10 on 3s, 9-for-11 overall and added six rebounds and four assists.

“He did everything except sell popcorn and sell sodas at the concession stand,” Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. “If he had done that, it probably would have been a big night selling that, too. But we needed him in the game.”

Xavier Silas scored nine points for Northern Illinois (1-6), which has lost four in a row. Silas made four of his 15 shots in his return from a five-game absence because of a broken right hand. The Huskies turned the ball over 21 times and shot just 32 percent from the field in their first game since Dec. 2. They were only 2-for-20 in 3-pointers while the Gophers were 11-for-20 from behind the arc.

“It was just a tough game all around, offensively and defensively,” Northern Illinois guard Jake Anderson said.

Ralph Sampson III had 14 points and three blocks and Lawrence Westbrook scored 15 for Minnesota, which has won four in a row after a three-game losing streak.

None of those victories, however, will impress the selection committee come NCAA tournament time. After losing to Portland, Texas A&M and Miami, the Gophers have returned home to blow out Brown, Morgan State, St. Joseph’s and Northern Illinois.

Spending about five minutes of game time on the bench didn’t cool Hoffarber down. He made his fifth 3-pointer of the period when he was reinserted.

Shortly afterward, Hoffarber got a pass behind the halfcourt line as the Gophers worked the ball up the floor. The crowd hollered “Shoooot!”

Tempted as he may have been, Hoffarber declined.

Hoffarber tied the school record, shared by Terrence Simmons, Lawrence McKenzie and Devoe Joseph, with 11 minutes to go in the game. Shortly after the achievement was announced with 3 minutes to play, Smith put Hoffarber back in the game to try to break it.

He did just that with 1:28 to play, getting a standing ovation from the crowd and a big hug from teammate Paul Carter after swishing the big one from the top of the key.

MINNESOTA (8-3): Johnson 2-4 2-2 6, Sampson III 7-10 0-0 14, Hoffarber 9-11 0-0 26, Westbrook 6-9 2-4 15, Nolen 1-4 0-0 3, Joseph 2-6 2-2 7, Carter 2-5 4-4 8, Iverson 2-4 0-0 4, Bostick 2-6 0-0 4, Cobbs 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 34-61 10-12 89.

N. ILLINOIS (1-6): Ervin 0-1 0-0 0, Kowal 4-8 1-1 9, Silas 4-15 0-0 9, Anderson 3-6 1-2 7, DiNunno 3-11 0-0 7, Dzepina 0-3 0-0 0, Nixon 2-8 0-0 4, Hall 2-3 2-2 6, Storm 0-1 0-0 0, Patton 0-2 0-0 0, Fisher 0-0 1-4 1, Fakuade 1-2 1-2 3, Landers 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 19-60 8-13 48.

Halftime – Minnesota 44-23. 3-Point Goals – N. Illinois 2-20 (Silas 1-3, DiNunno 1-7, Dzepina 0-1, Anderson 0-2, Patton 0-2, Nixon 0-5), Minnesota 11-20 (Hoffarber 8-10, Nolen 1-2, Joseph 1-3, Westbrook 1-4, Bostick 0-1). Fouled Out – None. Rebounds – N. Illinois 36 (Anderson, Dzepina, Nixon, Silas 4), Minnesota 36 (Hoffarber 6). Assists – N. Illinois 9 (Anderson 4), Minnesota 24 (Nolen 6). Total Fouls – N. Illinois 13, Minnesota 14. A – 12,055.