Minnesota aims to stay hot versus Purdue-Fort Wayne

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Minnesota already has raised a trophy and hasn't experienced the feeling of losing three games into the tenure of first-year head coach Ben Johnson.

Now, the Golden Gophers (3-0) will try to continue their winning ways on Friday when they host Purdue-Fort Wayne in Minneapolis.

Entering the season with Johnson and a roster comprised of mostly new players, Minnesota won its season opener against Kansas City and captured the Asheville Championship in North Carolina with two victories.

Minnesota earned a 73-69 win over Western Kentucky last Friday before prevailing in double overtime over Princeton, 87-80, to win the tournament title two days later.

"I thought our guys battled," Johnson told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "I didn't think they broke. This is probably the third game in a row where they could have at different stretches, and were able to stay poised and maintain their confidence."

In Asheville, Minnesota might have discovered two players who can be relied on to carry the team offensively.

Payton Willis, a transfer from the College of Charleston, scored 16 of his game-high 29 points in overtime against Princeton, which followed up a 19-point effort against Western Kentucky.

Jamison Battle, a transfer from George Washington, had 24 points and 11 rebounds against Princeton. He is averaging 20.7 points in the first three games.

The Golden Gophers face a Purdue-Fort Wayne team from the Horizon League that is off to its first 2-0 start since the 2014-15 season.

The Mastodons are seeking their first 3-0 start since becoming a Division I program in 2001.

Through the first two games, five players are averaging in double figures for Purdue-Fort Wayne. Jalon Pipkins and Jarred Godfrey are each averaging 14.5 points a contest.

Ra Kpedi scored a career-high 17 points in a 65-60 win over Austin Peay on Tuesday.

On his Twitter account, Purdue-Fort Wayne head coach Jon Coffman said his team has shown "awesome" growth the past two weeks.

"Enjoying breaking down video so far this year!" Coffman posted. "Excited to watch 'pace & space' attack develop with this group."

--Field Level Media