Minnesota, Princeton battle for Asheville Championship

·2 min read

Two games in, Minnesota's three transfers of Jamison Battle, Payton Willis and E.J. Stephens are off to quick starts.

The trio's effectiveness has the Gophers' season off on the right foot as they look to lead them to an early-season title Sunday night against Princeton in the Asheville Championship in Asheville, N.C.

The trio combined for 44 points in Minnesota's season-opening 71-56 win over Kansas City and then totaled 57 in a 73-69 win over Western Kentucky on Friday.

Battle, who transferred from George Washington after averaging 17.3 points in 15 games last season, followed up an 18-point showing in the season opener on Tuesday by scoring 20 in Friday's win.

Battle scored 18 points before halftime when the Golden Gophers held a 12-point lead that they expanded to 16 before holding on.

"Jamison went crazy in the first half and got us out on the big run," Stephens said. "But when you play against a good team, you're going to have runs. We said before the game we're going to have to fight through adversity."

Willis, who transferred back to Minnesota after averaging 13.4 points for Charleston last season, added 19 after getting 13 in his Minnesota season debut. Stephens transferred in from Lafayette after averaging 16.4 points last season and contributed 18 to follow up his 13-point debut.

"We're going to be a team that probably can't rely on one guy for an entire game," Minnesota coach Ben Johnson said.

Playing for the first time since the 2019-20 season, Princeton (2-0) was picked for third in the Ivy League's preseason poll. It will be looking for an early in-season title after it knocked off South Carolina on Friday. Jaelin Llewellyn scored 16 points while Drew Friberg hit three game-clinching free throws in a 66-62 victory after the Tigers tuned up with a 94-28 rout of Rutgers University-Camden on Tuesday.

Thanks to their effective defense, the Tigers survived attempting 22 fewer shots, committing 18 turnovers and missing nine free throws. Princeton faces Minnesota after allowing 36.2 percent shooting from the field and forcing the Gamecocks into 22 missed 3-point attempts in 26 tries.

Minnesota leads the all-time series 3-0.

--Field Level Media