Minneapolis - In the first preview of 2009-10 Golden Gopher basketball, Minnesota played host to Minnesota Duluth this evening (Nov. 5) in an exhibition tilt at Williams Arena, with the Gophers claiming a 114-47 win over the Bulldogs.
Minnesota scored the last 21 points of the first half to take a 50-13 lead into the locker room at the break. Minnesota Duluth's last field goal came at the 5:50 mark to make the score 29-13, but by then the rout was on.
In the second half, the Gophers were running on all cylinders, outscoring the Bulldogs, 63-34, in the period while hitting 26-of-39 (66.7%) shots from the field. Minnesota opened its lead to as many as 65 points when it led 93-28 with 7:07 left to play.
As potent as the Minnesota offense looked, its defense was equally impressive. The Gophers forced the Bulldogs into 28 turnovers, swiping 19 steals on the night. In the first half alone, the Bulldogs committed 21 turnovers. Minnesota out-rebounded Minnesota Duluth 43-to-26 and collected 14 blocks in the contest.
While the Gophers were shooting 44-of-73 (60.3%) from the field, their smothering defense held the Bulldogs to just 18-of-56 (32.1%), including a 5-of-19 (26.3%) tally in the first half.
When the final horn sounded, all 11 Gophers had scored, led by a 19-point effort from Lawrence Westbrook (Chandler, Ariz.). Damian Johnson (Thibodaux, La.) notched a double-double on the night with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, while also adding seven steals, four assists, and three blocked shots. Freshman Rodney Williams (Minneapolis, Minn.) had a very nice showing in his debut with 11 points, making good on his first four field goals.
Three other Golden Gophers chipped in double figures, including Devoe Joseph (Pickering, Ontario) with 18, Ralph Sampson III (Duluth, Ga.) with 13 to go along with a game-high six blocks, and Colton Iverson (Yankton, S.D.) added 12.
The Golden Gophers will play one more exhibition game before officially opening the 2009-10 season. On Monday (Nov. 9), Minnesota State Moorhead visits Williams Arena for another exhibition game, and the real action starts Friday, Nov. 13, when Minnesota plays host to Tennessee Tech at The Barn.