Walker leads Gophers to win in exhibition

Minnesota bested Concordia-St. Paul 101-67 in its final exhibition contest.

Minnesota forward Maurice Walker protects the ball against Concordia-St. Paul on Monday at Williams Arena.

Lisa Persson

Minnesota forward Maurice Walker protects the ball against Concordia-St. Paul on Monday at Williams Arena.

Jace Frederick

The Gophers dominated the first half and put forth a less-than-inspiring effort in the second half in Friday’s exhibition win against Cardinal Stritch. They flipped the script Monday night and wore down Concordia-St. Paul.

Minnesota outscored the Golden Bears 54-30 in the second half en route to a 101-67 blowout win at Williams Arena on Monday.

“That was ideally the way that a game would go for us,” head coach Richard Pitino said after the game.

The Gophers’ frontcourt is the biggest question heading into the regular season, but it performed well Monday night.

“We were a little more aggressive,” junior center Mo Walker said of the frontcourt. “We played with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder.”

Walker finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead an improved effort from the big men on the team. He lost 60 pounds in the offseason and looked more agile and aggressive in the post than he did last season.

“It just shows you he’s playing with more confidence,” Pitino said. “He’s still got to be more aggressive than he’s been, in my opinion, because he’s really a talented player.”

Minnesota outrebounded Concordia 45-31 — a contrast to its performance on the glass Friday. Still, Walker said his team could have done a better job.

“We could have grabbed a few more,” he said. “[Concordia] grabbed a lot of offensive rebounds, so that’s something we need to work on.”

Junior guard Deandre Mathieu was a catalyst for the Gophers’ full-court press. He finished with four steals to go along with 12 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

“I tried to be a little more aggressive in the press today,” Mathieu said. “[Pitino] wanted to see a little more aggression on the defensive end, so I tried to bring that.”

The Gophers take the court for real this Friday in the regular-season opener against Lehigh.

“It’s show time,” junior guard Andre Hollins said.

Travis attends game

Five-star 2014 recruit Reid Travis attended Monday’s game.

The 6-foot-8-inch, 240-pound forward has narrowed his list to Stanford, Duke and Minnesota, and he’s set to decide Friday afternoon at his DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis.

Travis said he has a good bond with the Gophers’ staff and players and added he “feels at home here.”

He said he also likes the way Pitino’s system utilizes the power forward.

“I’m really excited seeing what they do at the four position,” Travis said at the game. “I can step outside and hit a shot or go inside. It’s a fun way to play.”

Still, Travis said his appearance at Monday’s exhibition doesn’t necessarily factor into his decision.

 “I’ve seen them play in practices and stuff before,” he said. “This is kind of just a last feel for it, but it won’t be the end-all-be-all.”

 

Jack Satzinger contributed to this report.