The Tubby Smith Era began this afternoon as Minnesota defeated Army 84-52 at Williams Arena. Dan Coleman and Damian Johnson combined for 28 points to lead the Gopher efforts in the 2007-08 season opener.
Johnson scored a career-high 12 points to go with eight rebounds, four blocks and four steals in just 20 minutes of action. Coleman led all scorers with 16 points while grabbing seven boards. All 11 Gophers that suited up got in the scorebook. The Gophers owned a decided advantage at the free throw line, making 20-of-29 while Army managed just 9-of-12.
Minnesota limited the Black Knights' offensive attack, holding them to just 35 percent shooting and forcing 25 turnovers. The Gophers registered 13 steals and 10 blocks as well.
The Gophers started slowly, allowing Army to take a 9-5 lead after a Tyrell Thompson basket with 15:40 on the clock in the first half. However, it didn't take long for Minnesota to get into gear, scoring the next nine points. The Gopher run swelled to 24-4 after a Kevin Payton slashing layup and two free throws by Coleman with 6:49 left in the half. Minnesota led 29-13 at that point and eventually took a 42-26 halftime lead. Army had pulled back within 12 with 1:06 left on a Kenny Brewer basket but a Lawrence Westbrook layup and a short Spencer Tollackson jumper in the final minute gave the Gophers a 16-point halftime edge.
The Black Knights hung around to start the second half before Al Nolen ignited a 15-0 run with a baseline three-pointer with 15:57 to go. Johnson had five additional points in the run on a trey and a layup to give Minnesota a 63-32 lead. The Gopher lead reached a game-high 36 on a Blake Hoffarber three-pointer with 4:31 left.
No Black Knight player managed to score in double figures with John Moonshower leading Army with nine points.
Minnesota returns to action on November 20 at Iowa State. The game tips at 7 p.m.