Gophers men’s basketball to play in SoCal Challenge over Thanksgiving

Gophers forward Jamison Battle drives for a basket during Minnesota's game against Ohio State Thursday night at Williams Arena. ((credit: University of Minnesota Athletics))

The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team will spend at least part of its Thanksgiving week in southern California, playing in the SoCal Challenge.

The Gophers are one of eight teams in the field, which is divided into two divisions. Minnesota is in the Surf Division, along with UNLV, Cal Baptist and Southern Illinois. The San Division features Cal State, Central Michigan, High Point and Tennessee State.

The tournament will be played Nov. 21-23 at the Pavilion at JSerra in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

"We're looking forward to playing in the SoCal Challenge and facing some great competition Thanksgiving week," Gophers coach Ben Johnson said in a statement. "We know our student-athletes will have a first-class experience at such a well-run national tournament. I'm excited for our Gophers fans to experience a fun, warm destination that they can travel to and enjoy."

In Johnson’s first season as head coach, the Gophers competed in the Asheville Championship in North Carolina, beating Western Kentucky and Princeton in double overtime as part of a 9-0 non-conference slate.

Johnson and the Gophers have had an offseason of revamping the roster after finishing 13-17 last year. Jamison Battle is the only starter returning, but Johnson has added former Prior Lake star Dawson Garcia through the NCAA transfer portal, and guards Ta’Lon Cooper and Taurus Samuels. Parker Fox and Isaiah Ihnen will be back healthy after season-ending knee injuries, and freshmen Braeden Carrington, Jaden Henley, Joshua Ola-Joseph and Pharrel Payne are expected to make impacts.

The Gophers' 2022 schedule will also likely include a home game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and a home game against Mississippi State as part of a home-and-home series.