MINNEAPOLIS -- After scoring 26 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in his collegiate debut, Kris Humphries drew a standing ovation as he walked to the Minnesota bench.
"That was a great feeling," Humphries said after the game. "I
know coming back here was the right decision for me. I'm really
happy to be here."
The Gophers are really happy, too.
Humphries, the Gophers' prized recruit who came to Minnesota after originally choosing Duke, led his team to a 78-67 win over Missouri-Kansas City on Monday night in the opening round of the preseason NIT.
The Minnesota native shot 12-for-23 with one blocked shot, a
steal and an assist.
"I was just excited to get out here in front of the fans and
win the game," Humphries said. "That's all I'm about this year,
is winning basketball games. An exciting night."
Minnesota will play at Utah on Wednesday night in the second
Moe Hargrow scored 18 points for the Gophers (1-0) and played
solid defense on UMKC guard Michael Watson, holding him to 3-for-19
for eight points. Senior Michael Bauer added nine points and 10
rebounds for Minnesota.
It was also the Gopher debut for junior point guard Adam Boone,
a Minnesota native who transferred to Minnesota from North
Carolina. Boone, who redshirted last season, went scoreless but had
eight assists and five rebounds.
But the night belonged to Humphries, who showed his inexperience
at times but displayed a blend of power and agility that should
give the Minnesota frontcourt a lift this year.
"Probably the guy I'm most upset with is (Duke coach) Mike
Krzyzewski," UMKC coach Rich Zvosec said. "I don't know what he
told him to make him want to go home."
Mike English had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead a scrappy
UMKC team, which took advantage of Minnesota's early mistakes and
stayed close to the Gophers in the first half. But the Gophers
began to pull away just before halftime.
The Kangaroos, who finished 9-20 last season and advanced to the
Mid-Continent Tournament semifinals, pulled to 39-34 on a 3-pointer
by Brandon Temple at the 16:02 mark of the second half. But
Minnesota used nice ball movement to get some open shots and scored
nine unanswered points to make it 48-34.
Missouri-Kansas City (0-1) answered with consecutive threes, but
Humphries went to work inside with his 6-foot-9, 236-pound frame.
He had a short jumper, a driving layup and a two-handed dunk -- his
second of the game -- to give Minnesota a 54-43 lead.
"For a freshman to be that aggressive, I think we all know
that's special," Gophers coach Dan Monson said.
Bauer added a tip and Aaron Robinson nailed a three to make it
59-43 with 8:08 to play.
Brandon Lipsey had 13 points and Brandon Temple added 12 for the
Kangaroos. Missouri-Kansas City, which ranked fifth in the nation
last year with an average of 9.4 made 3-pointers per game, went
11-for-33 from beyond the arc.
"They kind of took over in the second half," UMKC's Carlton
Aaron said. "The were crashing the boards real hard. We tried to
box them out, but they still got rebounds."
Aaron played Humphries hard but got into foul trouble and had
only eight points and four rebounds.
Humphries looked raw at times. Twice in the first half, the
freshman lost an inside pass -- the first went between his legs, the
other sailed through his hands. And he showed tendencies to pull up
early on smaller defenders, often missing the close shots.
"Missing a 5-foot jumper, it's just not supposed to happen,"
He had 12 points and 10 rebounds by halftime.
The teams traded the lead in a sloppy first half. Minnesota
closed out the half with eight unanswered points to take a 33-25
lead into the locker room.