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Minnesota Basketball: Gophers beat Kansas City 71-56 in Ben Johnson’s coaching debut

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The Gophers win game one and are undefeated under Ben Johnson

Kelly Hagenson

THE FACTS: The Gophers had three players in double figures and shut down Kansas City for nearly 6 minutes in the second half to win their season opener and Ben Johnson’s debut as a head coach. Jamison Battle led all scorers with 18 while Payton Willis and Elijah Stephens each had 13 for Minnesota.

THE BOX SCORE: HERE

KEY STAT: The Gopher defensive rebounding was elite. The Roos had just 4 offensive rebounds for the game which translates to the Gophers securing over 87% of all missed Kansas City shots. That kind of defensive rebounding will go a long way towards wins.

THE TURNING POINT: Kansas City scored on a Jacob Johnson dunk to come within 2 points at the 7:42 mark in the second half. But the Gophers went on a 12-0 run over the next 5:50 to pull away from the Kangaroos.

QUOTABLE - Ben Johnson on the resolve of his team after the game was within 2 points. “Then all of a sudden the scoreboard isn’t what you want it to be. So we had a timeout and I just told them, I said, this is when you have to be more aggressive. This is when you have to be the bully on the lock and you can’t play passive. And they did that. To their credit, everything that we have been working on and their veteran leadership showed up. Their resolve showed up. Their toughness showed up.

INTERESTING: Really only 2 guys came off the bench for Ben Johnson in the season opener. Four of the starters played 33 minutes or more and off the bench you basically just had Sean Sutherlin and Charlie Daniels who played 18 and 16 minutes respectively. Will Ramberg also played 5 minutes, all in the 2nd half.

UP NEXT: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Friday in the Asheville Championship tournament.