Minnesota suffered its first loss of the season in a 75-67 defeat vs. No. 19 Michigan State, but legendary Spartans coach Tom Izzo believes the Golden Gophers have the right man at the helm.

In his first season as Minnesota’s coach, Ben Johnson has the Golden Gophers off to a 7-1 record. Izzo envisions the native Minnesotan will be a viable recruiter in-state.

“I’ve watched him on the road, I’ve watched what he’s doing. He and I talked about it a little bit, this state’s got a lot of good players, and it never used to be that way here,” Izzo said. “I think you got a guy here that’s homegrown and so are his staff.”

The 40-year-old Johnson is a Minnesota alum who played for the Golden Gophers from 2002-04. Johnson was most recently an assistant at Xavier from 2018-21 and was an assistant at Minnesota from 2013-18.

Izzo adds that Johnson’s hot start is even more impressive considering the competitive nature of B1G hoops.

“I just think he’s doing a helluva job, I know what it’s like to be a first-year coach,” Izzo said. “To do that in the B1G is not easy…a little prejudiced because I want him to do well in every game but ours, but I also really believe it will be good for the B1G.”