Daniel Oturu posted a double-double, Payton Willis was better than advertised, and the Gophers dominated D-II opponent SW Minnesota State 73-48 in Minnesota’s second and final tune-up before the regular season starts on Nov. 5. The team previously bested Iowa State in a closed scrimmage.
It was an October exhibition game where nearly every player saw court time, so every takeaway needs a huge grain of salt given how far of a departure this is from “real” basketball. Still, the starters saw a ton of court time and it was nice to see Oturu, Kalscheur, Marcus Carr and the rest in the flesh.
Oturu was a beast with 12 points and 16 rebounds to notch a double-double. He was a man among boys in the paint and the Mustangs had absolutely no answer for him. Kalscheur wasn’t far behind, scoring 11 points and shooting 50 percent from the field.
The surprise of the preseason has been Payton Willis, who has gotten extended playing time and racked up 29 minutes in the game, leading the team with 14 points, dishing out six assists, grabbing four rebounds and hitting three threes. His body and ball control was impressive and certainly looked like a different player than the one who transferred from Vanderbilt two years ago. He committed just one turnover in the game.
Carr was also a nice surprise, and will need to play big minutes this year if the Gophers want to make an impact. He had a strong second half to finish with 12 points and six assists.
Minnesota shot poorly from the line, hitting just 11 of 24 attempts and committed 17 fouls. Still, the team shot 8-21 from deep and took advantage of 22 SMSU turnovers, turning them into 19 points. That was the difference in this one.
From here it’s all systems go. The Gophers kick off the regular season on Nov. 5 against Cleveland State.