MINNEAPOLIS -- The official first impression of the Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s basketball team had a long-distance focus Tuesday, Nov. 5.
As Minnesota searches for its new identity with seven newcomers, the Gophers' first five shots were three-pointers and they didn’t stop hoisting from deep in a 85-50 season-opening win over Cleveland State at Williams Arena.
The Gophers were one of the worst three-point shooting teams last season but made 13 of 29 (44.8 percent) on Tuesday, with Payton Willis going 5 for 8, Marcus Carr 3 for 9 and Gabe Kalscheur 3 for 8.
Minnesota easily dispatched Cleveland State, who was picked to finish last in the 10-team mid-major Horizon League, according to the conference’s preseason poll.
Carr, a transfer from Pittsburgh, led Minnesota with 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Willis, a transfer from Vanderbilt, had 17 points and eight assist. Center Daniel Oturu had 16 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, but also six turnovers.
The Gophers took a 38-21 halftime lead, with Oturu leading the way with 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Carr and Willis each had nine points and at least four assists.
Minnesota made 37 percent from deep (7 of 19) and that comprised more than 65 percent of their total shots (19 of 29) in the first half.
The Gophers schedule will get tougher, starting this weekend with a neutral site game against Oklahoma in Sioux Falls, S.D. on Saturday and then trips to Indianapolis to play Butler on Nov. 12 and Salt Lake City to play Utah on Nov. 15.