Brandon Johnson's parents came to see him play for the first time with the Gophers for Saturday's Senior Day game at Williams Arena.
Clearly there was extra motivation behind Johnson's 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Gophers in a 77-70 overtime loss to Rutgers in the home finale.
"I haven't seen my family since the day I came here," Johnson said. "It was definitely a good feeling to see them once again. It for sure and definitely gave me a boost."
The Chicago native said he'll strongly consider returning next season to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility the NCAA is granting athletes during the pandemic. But Johnson played with a sense of urgency Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights led 37-28 at halftime, but the 6-8 Western Michigan transfer had 11 points and five rebounds in the first half. He had four of the Gophers' 14 offensive rebounds in the game.
Fellow senior big man Eric Curry said it looked like Johnson was trying to "go out with a bang."
Johnson was limited to nine minutes because of an ankle injury leading into Wednesday's loss at Penn State, but he was determined not to miss Saturday's game.
"We have a lot of guys banged up, but he had a positive attitude," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. "He worked his butt off around the clock the last two days to get healthy for this. I knew he would lay it all on the line."
Pitino honored seniors Johnson, Curry and walk-on Hunt Conroy on the court before the game.
Robbins' return uncertain
Pitino said he didn't know if junior center Liam Robbins would be cleared to play in Wednesday's Big Ten tournament opener in Indianapolis.
Robbins, who averages 11.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and a Big Ten-high 2.7 blocks, has missed the past four games because of a sprained left ankle. He wasn't in uniform on the bench vs. Rutgers.
The 7-foot Drake transfer's most recent game was with zero points, four blocks and four assists in 14 minutes in a 94-63 loss Feb. 20 against Illinois.