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SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CALIF. — Ben Johnson didn't have to tell his Gophers basketball team much about playing on the road for the first time last season when his rotation consisted of six seniors.

Now Johnson has a roster with players who haven't been through most college basketball experiences. Monday's SoCal Challenge opener against Cal Baptist will be their first road game.

"You got to have that business mentality," the second-year Gophers coach said. "You're doing these things because you're trying to put yourself in a position to win a championship. And you can't do it if you don't take care of the first game."

Last season, the Gophers were underdogs against Western Kentucky and Princeton but won the Asheville Championship in North Carolina.

The Lancers are actually favored against the Gophers on Monday. They will be the only team entering the game with a victory against a major conference opponent so far this season. They upset Washington 73-64 last week in Seattle.

Cal Baptist, a Division II program in 2017-18, might not be a known name but it's "more than capable of beating us," Johnson said.

A week ago, the Gophers got overwhelmed 69-53 against DePaul at home in the Gavitt Games, but they bounced back with a 68-60 victory against Central Michigan.

"I thought our defense overall took a step on physicality, some of our rotations and our activity," Johnson said about holding the Chippewas to 30% shooting. "I thought we learned and grew from the mindset of toughness. That's got to carry us."


Time: 9:35 p.m. CT, Monday. Where: The Pavilion at J. Serra. Line: Gophers 1.5-point underdog. Series: First meeting in program history. TV: CBS Sports Network. Online/Live video: None. Radio: KFAN 100.3-FM



Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG

G – Ta'Lon Cooper 6-4 195 Jr. 11.8

G – Jaden Henley 6-7 200 Fr. 7.8

G – Will Ramberg 6-5 205 Jr. 3.0

F – Dawson Garcia 6-11 230 So. 17.5

C – Treyton Thompson 7-0 210 So. 3.3

Key reserves– Braeden Carrington, G, 6-4, Fr., 5.5 ppg; Taurus Samuels, G, 6-1, Sr., 3.0 ppg; Joshua Ola-Joseph, F, 6-7, Fr., 7.5 ppg; Pharrel Payne, F/C, 6-9, Fr., 7.8 ppg

Coach: Ben Johnson 16-18 career (2nd season)

Notable: The Gophers could get last season's leading scorer and rebounder Jamison Battle back into the lineup Monday against Cal Baptist. Battle, who missed the first four games to recover from foot surgery, led the team with 17.5 points and 6.3 rebounds last season. The 6-foot-7 All-Big Ten preseason junior will likely be a game-time decision and put on minutes restriction if he plays this week in the SoCal Challenge, which ends Wednesday. … Freshman forward Kadyn Betts will redshirt the 2022-23 season after reclassifying and joining the team early this year. Betts will play with a highly touted 2023 class that was signed Nov. 9 with four-star Illinois guard Cameron Christie and five-star California center Dennis Evans III, who could be in attendance to watch the Gophers play this week. … Freshman guard Braeden Carrington, who won Minnesota Mr. Basketball and a state title last season at Park Center, made his season debut Nov. 14 after missing two games with an ankle sprain. Carrington had 11 points, four rebounds and three steals in his second game against Central Michigan.


Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG

G – Joe Quintana 6-2 175 Sr. 14.7

G – Taran Armstrong 6-6 190 So. 14.0

G – Tre Armstrong 6-6 205 So. 3.5

F – Malik Wade 6-8 235 So. 1.3

F – Riley Battin 6-9 240 Sr. 9.8

Reserves – Timothy Ighoefe, C, 7-0, Sr., 6.0 ppg; Reed Nottage, G, 6-4, Fr., 7.8 ppg; Hunter Goodrick, F, 6-7, So., 7.7 ppg; Blondeau Tchoukuiegno, G, 6-2, Soph., 3.3 ppg.

Coach: Rick Croy 203-81 (5th Division I season)

Notable: The Lancers are playing their fifth season in Division I since making the jump in the 2018-19 season. Croy won 132 games and reached five straight NCAA Division II tournaments with Cal Baptist from 2014-18, including the Elite Eight in 2017-18. Last season, the Lancers finished 18-16 overall and 7-11 in the Western Athletic Conference. Their first win vs. the Pac-12 came 73-64 against Washington last week in Seattle. Croy previously had coached his team to a 95-87 overtime loss at USC in 2020-21.

Fuller's score prediction: Gophers 71, Cal Baptist 69.