Big finish lifts Minnesota past Kansas City in Johnson debut

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, November 10, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS  — Jamison Battle scored 18 points, Minnesota allowed just four points over the final seven minutes and the Golden Gophers defeated Kansas City 71-56 on Monday night in the season opener for both teams.

The win came in coach Ben Johnson’s debut with the Gophers.

Minnesota led 46-35 with 13:17 remaining in the second half but the Roos went on a 17-8 run to draw within 54-52 with 7:42 remaining. Luke Loewe and EJ Stephens combined to score the game’s next 10 points for Minnesota and the Gophers led 64-52 with 3:44 to go. Kansas City’s scoring drought lasted until Evan Gilyard II scored on a fast break at the 1:52 mark.

Stephens finished with 13 points, as did Payton Willis in his return to Minnesota after spending last season at the College of Charleston. Willis, who played for the Gophers in 2019-20, went 3 for 6 from 3-point range. Battle, Loewe, Stephens and Willis are four of 10 transfers that Johnson added to a roster that has only two returners from last season.

Josiah Allick led Kansas City with 21 points. Gilyard added 12 points and Marvin Nesbitt Jr. 11.