5 p.m. vs. Loyola Marymount • Williams Arena • BTN (100.3 FM)

It’s the first of two against Lions for U

Preview: The Gophers play Loyola Marymount on Saturday in the first of back-to-back games against their West Coast Conference opponent, including Monday at Williams Arena. Minnesota’s 99-69 opening win Wednesday against Wisconsin-Green Bay got tight down the stretch when a 33-point lead was cut to 10 points. Loyola won its opener 85-83 against Southern Utah at home Wednesday with a baseline jumper from Jalin Anderson as time expired. It was the first head coaching victory for Stan Johnson, an assistant at Marquette from 2015 to ’20. Johnson played basketball (2002-03) at Bemidji State and started his college coaching career as an assistant there (2003-04).

Players to watch: The Gophers’ top frontcourt players this season were supposed to be Liam Robbins, Eric Curry and Brandon Johnson. But all were coming off injuries and limited with foul trouble Wednesday. Robbins, a 7-foot Drake transfer, had 10 points, nine rebounds and a block in 18 minutes in his debut. He will have a bigger challenge — literally — Saturday and Monday. Loyola Marymount 7-3, 265-pound senior Mattias Markusson had 19 points, five rebounds and a block in his first game. Markusson returned to LMU after entering the transfer portal in the spring.

Numbers: Gophers guard Marcus Carr’s 35 points Wednesday against Green Bay were the most in the opener for a U player since Jordan Murphy’s 35 points vs. South Carolina Upstate in 2017-18.

Marcus Fuller