DePaul has twice traveled up from Chicago in the last four seasons and made themselves at home inside Williams Arena.
The Big East program has repeatedly come into the Gophers’ residence and put their muddy shoes on the white ottoman.
In November 2019, DePaul beat the Gophers by five points at the Barn. Then Minnesota went on to win 16 nonconference games across the next four seasons — until DePaul returned Monday and left with a 69-53 victory in the Gavitt Games.
DePaul has been picked to finish last in the Big East Conference this season and were a 1 1/2-point favorite against a U team picked to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten. The floor looks higher in the Big East.
Without last season’s leading scorer Jamison Battle out for weeks after foot surgery, Minnesota has struggled to establish an offensive identity. After one week of nonconference play, the Gophers were last among Big Ten teams in points per game at 66.5. That will drop after Monday’s total.
DePaul led by 19 points with 14 minutes left in the second half, but Minnesota cut the deficit to single digits on multiple occasions, including with five minute left.
The Blue Demons (3-0) continued to be more physical than the Gophers (2-1), with a 48-32 advantage in rebounding and 36-26 in points in the paint.
DePaul’s Javan Johnson, an Iowa State transfer, had a game-high 20 points, while Umoja Gibson, an Oklahoma transfer, added 14.
U’s leading scorer Dawson Garcia fought through a poor shooting night to lead Minnesota with 19 points.
After winning their opening seven games in Ben Johnson’s first season a year ago, the Gophers have followed wins over Western Michigan and St. Francis Brooklyn with a defeat in their third game this year.
DePaul took a 34-22 lead at the half. Minnesota was shooting 50 percent from the field until they went cold without a bucket on 12 attempts in a seven-minute stretch. DePaul didn’t look back.
Pharrel Payne made all five of his shots for 10 first-half points but the true freshman would finish with 12. In that fist half, the rest of the Gophers shot 12 percent (3 of 25), including Garcia going 1 for 7.
Braeden Carrington made his Gopher debut after missing the first two games with an ankle injury. The Park Center High School graduate had a rebound on his first possession but didn’t score.