Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota’s Ihnen has 2nd straight season-ending knee injury

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota junior forward Isaiah Ihnen will miss the upcoming season after reinjuring the surgically repaired left knee that sidelined him last year.

The Gophers revealed the news on Monday, 382 days after making the same announcement about Ihnen after he was hurt then in summer practice. His latest injury occurred last week.

“It’s disappointing to see Isaiah go through this after he worked hard to get back on the court this year and made significant strides to his game this summer,” head coach Ben Johnson said. “We will be with him every step of the way in his road to recovery.”

Ihnen tweeted, “I’ll be back, story’s not over!”

The 6-foot-10 native of Germany played in 50 games over his first two seasons, averaging 3.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 13.1 minutes. Ihnen and fellow junior Parker Fox would have been two of the most experienced frontcourt players for the Gophers this season, but Fox is also out for a second straight year after a major knee injury requiring surgery.

Minnesota adds freshman forward Betts after reclassification

Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Freshman forward Kadyn Betts will join Minnesota for the upcoming basketball season, after he moved up his high school graduation.

The Gophers announced Betts’ reclassification on Monday. The 6-foot-8 product of Pueblo, Colorado, was originally a 2023 recruit. Betts averaged 22.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game and led the state in double-doubles. He was a team captain, a straight-A student and the junior class president in his final year at Central High School.

Betts could help fill part of the void created on the wing by the season-ending knee injury suffered earlier this summer by forward Parker Fox. He is one of five incoming freshmen who will join three transfers on the roster for Minnesota this season.

Big men help No. 13 Badgers hold on to beat Gophers 68-67

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MINNEAPOLIS- Johnny Davis had a quiet game that ended early, when Wisconsin’s standout guard fouled out with 2:35 to go and the 13th-ranked Badgers gripping hard on a one-point lead at Minnesota.

From start to finish, the big men produced more proof there’s more to this team than just Davis.

There are two of them, actually, as twin brother Jordan Davis reminded the Gophers with his valuable contribution down the stretch.

Steven Crowl scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Tyler Wahl added 12 points and 10 rebounds and Wisconsin fended off Minnesota for a 68-67 victory on Wednesday night.

“This team is just a really driven team. Everyone knows that when your number gets called, you’ve got to go in there and produce,” Wahl said.

Johnny Davis, the only Big Ten player who leads his team in points, rebounds and assists, was replaced by his brother when he picked up his fifth foul. After Payton Willis split the pair of free throws to even the score at 62, the eighth tie of the game, Jordan Davis answered with a layup on the other end.

Jordan Davis, the twin brother of Johnny Davis, made a layup with 2:18 remaining for the lead. Then after Wahl rebounded a miss by the Gophers, Crowl banked in a hook at the shot-clock buzzer to make it 66-62 with 1:19 left.

“I don’t think anyone was stunned,” Jordan Davis said. We’re not just a one-man team. No offense – I know he’s my brother – but we just battled through it.”

With a layup by Willis the Gophers got back within two points, but Wahl worked the board to keep alive a miss by the Badgers and reset the shot clock.

Brad Davison, the Big Ten’s leading free-throw shooter at 89.1%, made two foul shots to seal it for the Badgers (22-5, 13-4) and put them in a first-place tie in the Big Ten with Purdue. Illinois is a half-game behind. Wisconsin hosts the fourth-ranked Boilermakers next week.

Jamison Battle scored 17 points and Willis – who missed the last game with COVID-19 and came off the bench for the first time this season – added 13 points for the Gophers (13-13, 4-13). They faced their biggest deficit of the game at 59-51 before a pair of 3-pointers by Willis fueled an 8-0 spurt.

As he glanced at the boxscore, noting the three starting guards for the Badgers combined for only 25 points with Johnny Davis fouling out, Gophers coach Ben Johnson said, “I would’ve taken that every day of the week.”

The Gophers, who went 13 for 19 from the free-throw line, got a big spark from their leading scorer Battle. He scraped off a high screen to drive and throw down a one-handed dunk on Johnny Davis for a 20-15 lead. A little later, Battle swished an off-balance shot-clock beater from the wing with his smooth left-handed stroke. But he went only 1 for 4 from the floor in the second half, as Davison helped chip in on defense against him.

With four Minnesota natives on their roster – including Wahl, the 7-foot sophomore Crowl and fifth-year firebrand Davison – the Badgers were nevermore the villain than on this visit to their border-state rival’s raised floor at Williams Arena.

Crowl and Wahl made this a big man’s game, another opponent taking advantage of the undersized Gophers underneath. Wahl backed down sixth-year senior Eric Curry for a layup and two hook shots on three consecutive possessions to give the Badgers a 28-25 lead they didn’t relinquish.

OH, BROTHER

The Badgers were without Lorne Bowman II due to a non-COVID-19 illness and Jahcobi Neath for a one-game suspension issued by the Big Ten for the handshake-line fracas with Michigan, leaving them down their top two backup guards.

That created the opportunity for Jordan Davis, who had seven points and two assists in 20 minutes – all career highs.

“He practiced really well yesterday. I thought he had a little bounce. He knew this was coming,” coach Greg Gard said. “I’m just really happy for him.”

BORDER IMBALANCE

The Badgers have won 33 of the last 42 matchups with Minnesota. Since reaching the Final Four in 1997, the Gophers have made the NCAA Tournament only seven times with just two top-four finishes in Big Ten play.

Wisconsin has three Final Four appearances since then and on the way to a 22nd trip to the NCAA Tournament and a 20th top-four finish in the conference over the last the quarter-century.

BIG PICTURE

Wisconsin: The Badgers improved to 8-2 in true road games this season. Davison had only seven points but enjoyed a victory in his final visit to Minnesota.

Minnesota: The Gophers have impressed the Big Ten with their performance in Johnson’s first season, but they’ve grown tired of these late fades in games.

“There’s going to be a change in our head and a change in our mentality. We’re going to go out there and be the grittiest team on the block,” Battle said.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin: Visits Rutgers Saturday.

Minnesota: Hosts Indiana Sunday.

Five Hoosiers in double figures in win over Gophers 63-60

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind.- Trayce Jackson-Davis had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Indiana beat Minnesota 73-60 on Sunday.

With a Minnesota defense concentrating on Jackson-Davis, who averages just under 20 points a game, the Hoosiers responded with five players scoring in double figures including Xavier Johnson with 14 points, Rob Phinisee 13, Parker Stewart 12 and Race Thompson 10. Still, Jackson-Davis posted his sixth double-double this season and the 27th of his career.

Jamison Battle scored 19 points, Payton Willis 18 and E.J. Stephens 12 for the Gophers.

Indiana (12-3, 3-2), coming off a home win over No. 13 Ohio State, is now 11-0 in Assembly Hall this season. The Hoosiers have won four straight over the Gophers (10-3, 1-3).

Trailing by 10 at halftime, Willis and Battle scored all the Gophers’ points in an 18-7 run to open the second half and briefly take a one-point lead. But Miller Kopp hit a 3-pointer and Indiana attacked inside in a 17-5 run with six points from Thompson for a 65-54 lead with four minutes remaining. The Gophers didn’t get closer than nine after that.

With the Gophers sagging inside on Jackson-Davis in the first half when he scored just four points, Indiana was able to take advantage from the perimeter with Phinisee – averaging just 4.5 points per game – coming off the bench to hit a career-high four 3-pointers and Thompson adding two from the arc and scoring 10 points. A 17-4 run to close the half led to a 39-29 lead.

Indiana outshot Minnesota by 10%, made 9 of 24 3-point tries to 5 of 25 for Minnesota and ended up even in the paint after the Gophers held an advantage in the first half.

Minnesota next plays at Michigan State on Wednesday while Indiana is at Iowa on Thursday.

Minnesota forward Eric Curry coming back for 6th season

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota forward Eric Curry has decided to return for a sixth season in the program.

The 6-foot-9 Curry was planning to serve as a graduate assistant under new coach Ben Johnson, but he changed his mind and exercised his option under the NCAA’s pandemic guidelines to play an additional year. The Gophers said Curry would switch his jersey from No. 24 to No. 1.

Curry, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, was forced to miss both the 2017-18 and 2019-20 seasons with knee injuries. In 78 career games, he has averaged 4.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 18.2 minutes. Curry played in all 29 games in the 2020-21 season.

“I’m so incredibly excited for Eric,” Johnson said in a statement distributed by the university. “I’m happy with how he is feeling physically first and foremost, and that he is hungry to compete and lead for one more year. I know he is pumped to be able to wear the Maroon and Gold and we are just as thrilled to have him back with us.”

Cockburn, Dosunmu lead No. 5 Illinois past Northwestern 73-66

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Kofi Cockburn had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Ayo Dosunmu added 13 points and No. 5 Illinois beat Northwestern 73-66 on Tuesday.

Cockburn got his 14th double-double of the season for the Illini (20-5, 11-3 Big Ten), who took control early in their sixth straight win.

Chase Audige scored 22 points for Northwestern (6-13, 3-12). Pete Nance added 14 points for the Wildcats, who lost their 12th straight.

Illinois led 25-7 but saw its lead cut to two points with 1:30 left. Dosunmu, quiet most of the night, hit a long 3-pointer to ice the win.

Illinois had several early scoring runs despite foul trouble for Cockburn, who sat for all but five minutes of the first half. The Illini shot 60% from the field before the break to Northwestern’s 37% and led 38-26 at halftime.

Northwestern regrouped, going on a 14-4 run to cut the lead to four points. Illinois’ Trent Frazier hit a 3-pointer and Cockburn followed with a layup.

BIG PICTURE

After needing overtime to beat Nebraska 77-72 last Friday, the Illini needed an easy win against another unranked team. Although things tightened late, that mission was mostly accomplished, and Illinois got valuable playing time for bench players that could pay dividends with three tough road games upcoming.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Illinois should remain in the top five and could even move up a spot or two depending on how the top four play this week.

UP NEXT

Northwestern: Hosts Wisconsin on Sunday.

Illinois: Begins a three-game road stretch against Minnesota on Saturday. The Illini are scheduled to play four of their final five games away from State Farm Center.