Coleman leads Gophers past Army 84-52 in Tubby’s first game
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Dan Coleman scored 16 points in 20 minutes, including two first-half dunks that fired up the Minnesota crowd in a 84-52 victory Saturday over Army—Tubby Smith’s first regular-season game as coach of the Gophers.
Sophomore reserve Damian Johnson contributed a career-high 12 points for Minnesota, which forced 25 turnovers by the Black Knights—who were led by nine points from John Moonshower.
After leaving Kentucky to take the job here in March, Smith has been embraced—though he’s kept a much lower profile than new football coach Tim Brewster—by fans eager for better days at “The Barn.”
The Gophers went to the NCAA tournament once in Dan Monson’s eight seasons, following the academic fraud scandal that tarnished the 1997 Final Four appearance and forced the firing of coach Clem Haskins.
Smith, sitting on a stool on the edge of Williams Arena’s famous raised floor, has Minnesota playing a style that should excite the masses—even if significant improvement in the standings doesn’t come.
Lawrence McKenzie, last season’s leading scorer who averaged more than 12 shots per game, missed all five of his field goals and finished with two points. He led the aggressive on-the-ball defense, however, harassing Brown and the others in the Army backcourt.
Between Gophers baskets in the first half, McKenzie hounded Cleveland Richard and bumped him several times—creating a turnover by keeping Richard from crossing halfcourt in 10 seconds.
The Black Knights brought 13 letterwinners back from a squad that went 15-16, including senior Jarell Brown—the third-leading scorer in the Patriot League last season. Those 15 victories were the most by Army since the 1984-85 team went 16-13.
Brown was wide open and swished a 3-pointer for the game’s first points, and the Black Knights slipped past Minnesota’s full-court press a couple of times for easy baskets that made Smith scowl.
The Gophers, though, were in control of the last 30 minutes after a jumper by Brown cut the lead to 14-11 near the midpoint of the first half.
Coleman started the second half with a 3-pointer, and Minnesota built a lead as big as 36 points—playing with far more energy than in the past. Army went nearly 10 minutes without scoring, until Curtis Koszuta made the first of two free throws with 7:53 remaining in the game.