Just two minutes into his college career, freshman Cam Christie scored his first field goal for the Gophers men’s basketball team. He hit three-pointers with smooth shooting.
Christie did this again and again in the next two takes. Forget about feeling nervous.
Junior Isaiah Ihnen, who returned for two games after missing two years due to injury, didn’t miss a shot and made five 3-pointers on Friday. Forget about feeling rusty.
Christie, a four-star recruit out of Illinois, got off to a hot start in his debut, scoring 13 of his 18 points in the first half. Enan, the Gophers’ longest-tenured player, scored 20 points on 7-for-7 shooting in a 102-76 win over the Gophers. San Antonio, Texas in front of 6,973 fans at Williams Arena.
Dawson Garcia scored 22 points to lead the Gophers (2-0), who shot 55 percent from the field. But the story of the night was that Christie and Enan combined to make nine of the team’s 14 3-pointers.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment,” said the 6-foot-6 Christie, who missed a month of practice with mononucleosis. “Just to play in front of amazing fans and be with my teammates that I’ve been with since day one. It was a great experience.”
Enan, who has been with the program since 2019, waited a little longer for his moment in the spotlight after back-to-back knee injuries sidelined senior Parker Fox. The German made his first start in three years on Friday after replacing big man Pharrell Payne, who is out with a minor foot injury.
“It’s so surreal,” Inan said. “I don’t even know if one day, I’m going to be back here playing in a Gophers jersey… Being able to compete and earn the trust of my coaches and my teammates – that’s huge.”
The Gophers (2-0) had five players score in double figures, hit 28 of 34 from the free throw line and outlasted a stronger UTSA team 43-32.
Elijah Hawkins, currently 5-11, is 2 points and 2 assists away from a triple-double after grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds. He led the team’s fast attack and scored 24 points in the fast break.
In the second half, Yining scored 7 points in a row, including back-to-back three-pointers assisted by Hawkins and Christie. The two together contributed 12 points of the team’s 21 assists.
“Isaiah makes good shots — and when he makes good shots, he makes them,” Gophers coach Ben Johnson said. “We have to continue to emphasize sharing the ball.”
Christie, who took the court in maroon and gold for the first time on Friday, was most impressive after spending much of October out sick, including Colorado State’s closed scrimmage. He was finally cleared to practice last Thursday, but he missed the opener.
It didn’t take long for Christie to feel comfortable on Friday. After Christie missed her first jump shot around the 15-minute mark, she watched her next three shots from behind the arc.
With 12 minutes left in the first half, Christie hit consecutive three-pointers at the top of the arc, rewriting the score to 24-13. Minnesota fans cheered as he took the bench — and when he scored the final three points of the game to help the Gophers score 100 points for the first time since 2020.
“This is not a surprise to us,” Yining said. “We see that every day in practice. That’s who he is.”