The Gophers embarked on a three-game Canadian exhibition on Thursday, trying their best to stay fresh over the summer months and providing fans with a glimpse into the upcoming season.
The team opened the tour against the University of British Columbia on Thursday and faced Trinity Western on Friday night, with both games resulting in victories. Minnesota faces the University of Victoria on Sunday at 5:00pm CT. Check out SportsCanadaTV on Sunday evening to see the live video feed.
As expected, the Gophers cruised against UBC, taking a 20-point lead into halftime and finishing off the Thunderbirds 80-62. Highlights included Devoe Joseph’s 18 points from the field and newcomer Mo Walker’s 12/10 double-double. Trevor Mbakwe just missed out on joining the double-double club, finishing with 10 points and nine boards.
The defense may have been the story of the game though, with the team holding UBC to 26.6% shooting for the game and throwing in eight blocks. The Gophers owned the rebounding advantage 61-43 and never let the Thunderbirds obtain any sort of game flow.
The exhibition allowed fans to get previews of several new Gophers. In addition to heralded additions Mbakwe and Walker, Tubby gave PT to new recruits Maverick Ahanmisi, Austin Hollins, and Elliott Eliason. Hollins impressed with eight points in 15 minutes, including going 2-2 from beyond the arc.
Against Trinity Western, the rust of the offseason was apparent as the Gophers shot 39% from the field while committing 22 turnovers. The defense again was impressive, forcing the Spartans into 28 turnovers and holding them to 38% shooting from the field. Minnesota scored 29 points off of turnovers.
Joseph again led the team in scoring, putting up 15 points off the bench and swiping five steals. Walker secured his second double-double in as many nights and Blake Hoffarber dropped 14 points behind 4-8 three-point shooting. Colton Iverson and Mbakwe also found themselves scoring in double figures, putting up 12 and 11 points, respectively. Trinity’s Jacob Doerksen, the reigning conference player of the year, led all scorers with 23 points.
Being that the trip is merely exhibition it’s difficult to put much, if any, emphasis on game results or performances. If anything, it was exciting to see on-court performances of the several Gopher newcomers and recruits.
- The starting lineup for the UBC game was as follows: 1-Nolen, 2-Hoffarber, 3-Williams, 4-Iverson, 5-Sampson III; the Trinity Western game was: 1-Nolen, 2-Hoffarber, 3-Williams; 4-Mbakwe, 5-Iverson
- Devoe Joseph donned jersey #34, his new, and Damian Johnson’s old number. Per DJ’s tweet: “My bro @devoejoe wearin #34 this year for the gophers i told him he can wear it if he promise 2 b an all big ten playa somethin i never did.” Joseph wore #34 during his high school days and went back to the number after the end of Johnson’s career. Frankly, seeing Joseph in a new number was odd-looking, especially since it appeared at first glance that Damian Johnson had merely lost a lot of offseason weight.