The Minnesota men's basketball team started the season tonight at Williams Arena with a 96-74 exhibition win over the Mavericks of Minnesota State, Mankato. While the Mavericks gave a good fight in the first half, getting within two points of the Gophers, they were never able to gain the lead. In the second half, Minnesota's vibrance returned and they closed out the game with a 13-4 run over the Mavericks.
Minnesota scored first with transfer Ben Johnson knocking down two free throws in the first minute of play. Following that start, sophomore Rick Rickert delivered six straight points to bring the score to 8-0. The Mavericks quietly answered back with just four points at the 12:30 mark.
The Mavericks gained momentum in the first half when senior guard Drew Carlson grabbed a rebound off a jumper from Jeff Hagen. They were able to answer the Gophers nearly shot-for-shot, pulling the score within two at the 3:30 mark. However, Hagen and Rickert combined for nine points to give Minnesota a more healthy lead at 38- 31 with just over one minute remaining. The first half ended with Drew Shepp of Mankato knocking down a jumper to pull them within five.
In the second half, the Gophers got their wind back and were able to outscore Mankato, 58-41. They redeemed their weak first-half rebounding, having just 15 to Mankato's 17, by grabbing 34 boards in the second half with Rickert, Hagen and Michael Bauer having six a piece.
Bauer got the crowd going, blocking a shot from the Maverick's Jermaine Brown in the first two minutes in the second half. After that point, the Mavericks relied on the scoring of Luke Anderson and Brown but were only able to get within seven of the Gophers after a 6- 0 run just after the midway point in the second half. Brown finished the game as Mankato's leading scorer with 14.
The 13-4 run for the Gophers was sparked by a jumper and two free throws from Johnson and five points from Bauer to secure Minnesota's win. Rickert led the team in points with 29 and Bauer and Hagen shared rebounding honors with 11 each. The Maroon and Gold will face Team Nike in exhibition Nov. 17 at 1 p.m.