MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Joey King hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points and Minnesota pulled away from Missouri-Kansas City in the second half for a 76-58 victory on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
King made 7 of 10 shots overall and Carlos Morris added 13 points for the Golden Gophers, who made eight of their 12 3s in the second half.
LaVell Boyd scored 25 points and made 7 of 10 3-pointers for UMKC. The Kangaroos made 12 of 24 3-pointers, but still shot just 32 percent from the field.
A hot start had the Kangaroos up by nine midway through the first half, but the Gophers found their shooting touch in the final 20 minutes to cruise to the win.
Nate Mason had 11 points and seven assists as the Gophers start what many expect to be a rebuilding season. Coach Richard Pitino led them to an NIT championship in his first year on the job, but they missed postseason play altogether last year and enter the year with only two seniors — King and Morris.
Earlier in the week Pitino reeled in a heralded recruiting class that includes Minnesota prep star Amir Coffey, but the current group isn’t interested in waiting around for them to arrive next fall.
The Gophers missed 13 of their first 14 shots and scored just four points in the first 8:30 of the game.
The Kangaroos weren’t shooting much better from inside the arc. But they cashed in from deep going 8 of 15 on 3-pointers in the first half. At one point in the first 20 minutes, they had hit 5 of 8 3s, but just 1 of 10 2-point field goals.
Mason and Morris keyed a 16-4 run that pushed the Gophers ahead and Minnesota opened the second half with 3-pointers on five of its first six baskets to take a 49-39 lead.
The Kangaroos returned six players with starting experience, including Harrison, the WAC player of the year. They endured a little bit of drama before the season started when assistant coach Andre McGee resigned after being accused of paying for prostitutes to sleep with recruits and players while McGee worked at Louisville.
Pitino worked with McGee under his father Rick Pitino at Louisville but has denied knowing about any of the alleged activities.
UMKC: Harrison finished with five points on 1-for-7 shooting. … The Kangaroos’ 17 turnovers led to 19 Minnesota points.
Minnesota: The men’s team headlined a Williams Arena doubleheader. The women’s team set a new school record with 16 3s in a 98-54 win over Wofford in the opener. … Freshman Kevin Dorsey had seven points and six assists in his debut.
UMKC: Hosts William Jewell on Sunday.
Minnesota: Hosts Louisiana-Monroe on Sunday.
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