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Gophers' Murphy going for the cash in 3-on-3 tourney

Minnesota Gophers forward Jordan Murphy (3) passes the ball during the second half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on Feb. 6, 2019. Harrison Barden / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- A busy weekend awaits now former Minnesota Golden Gophers forward Jordan Murphy.

Murphy, who recently wrapped his senior season at Minnesota, will compete in the Reese’s College All-Star game Friday, and will play for the Big Ten team in the 3 on 3 national championship Friday-Sunday at the Mall of America.

Murphy admits he’s looking more forward to the latter. There’s a cash incentive for the 3 on 3 tournament, with teams earning $1,000 for each victory on Friday and Saturday.

The overall champion will split $100,000. Murphy’s teammates are Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, Indiana’s Juwan Morgan and Nebraska’s Glynn Watson Jr.

“We’re hoping to win the thing,” Murphy said. “It’s different when there’s money on the line. It’s some extra motivation. But that’s a good thing. Obviously, everyone is going to want to play their best, but everyone wants to have fun at the same time.”

Murphy has recovered from the back injury that limited him to just four minutes in the Gophers’ second-round NCAA tournament loss to Michigan State.

He said it was challenging to put on socks and shoes in the days immediately following the injury, suffered in a first-round victory over Louisville.

“I’m still doing treatment on it,” he said. “I don’t think there’s ever a point where I’ve got to stop doing treatment. Obviously, it took a while for it to feel better.”

Murphy said it has been “a big relief” to learn the injury wouldn’t be a major setback as he prepares for the pre-draft process as he pursues his dream of playing in the NBA.

“That way I can accomplish what I need to accomplish right now and focus on what I need to focus on,” he said.

Olympian, comedian

Charles Barkley hasn’t been around the Auburn basketball team during its run to the Final Four. That’s about to change.

Barkley, a former NBA great who played at Auburn from 1981-84, will be at U.S. Bank Stadium this weekend as part of the CBS/Turner Broadcasting team.

He has been openly rooting for his alma mater since the tournament started, decorating his part of the TBS set with school colors and stuffed Tigers.

“I love it,” Auburn forward Danjel Purifoy said. “He hasn’t been around but he’s always rooting for us.”

Auburn assistant coach Steve Pearl said Thursday he expects Barkely, a 1992 Olympic gold medalist who helped lead Phoenix to the 1993 NBA Finals as a player, to address the team before Saturday’s semifinal against Virginia.

“Charles Barkley is a comedian to me, man,” Purifoy said. “He’s real funny.”

Purifoy was born in 1995, five years before Barkley retired from the NBA.

“I’m way too young to have seen him play,” he said.

‘Vintage era'

Clem Haskins’ Minnesota team went to the Final Four in 1997, two years after Tom Izzo started coaching at Michigan State.

Izzo remembered Haskins on Thursday as one of the leaders of a different era of Big Ten basketball with Jud Heathcote and Gene Keady.

“That was a vintage era (and) I have tremendous respect for those guys,” Izzo said. “They were great coaches. They were great guys. I miss all three of them in the league. I really do.”

Izzo was an assistant to Heathcote before succeeding him as the Spartans coach for the 1995-96 season, but he said he learned a lot from Haskins and Keady, the longtime Purdue head coach.

“My first Big Ten meeting, it was unbelievable because those three guys kind of, they ruled the roost for the coaches,” Izzo said. “I was the new guy and sitting in the back of the room, almost … hiding. And Clem, for some reason, they were all good friends with Jud, and they all kind of took me under their wing.

“What I learned, they were all tough guys, but I swear to you none tougher than Clem Haskins. His teams, those were fist fights. Not that Keady’s weren’t, but back then I just learned about how hard a team played.”