MINNEAPOLIS -- A few quick thoughts on Minnesota’s 77-73 victory over No. 1 Indiana at Williams Arena on Tuesday night. It was Minnesota’s first win over a No. 1 team since 1989 (Illinois on Jan. 26, 1989).
Overview: With NBA scouts in attendance, senior Trevor Mbakwe looked like a pro in the first half. He scored 12 points (shooting 5-for-7) as the Gophers stopped Indiana from entering the break with a big lead. A huge momentum swing changed the first half for the Gophers with 12 minutes, 46 seconds remaining.
Victor Oladipo hit a 3-pointer as Minnesota's Elliott Eliason was called for a foul off the ball. Officials deliberated before deciding that the shot counted. Indiana retained possession and Jordan Hulls hit a jump shot. Hulls then made a 3-pointer on the Hoosiers' next possession.
The Hulls triple capped off a 10-0 rally for Indiana. The Gophers were up 16-10 when Mbakwe went to the bench; Indiana had a 20-16 edge by the time he returned.
The Hoosiers entered the second half with a 34-30 lead -- and without a field goal from leading scorer Cody Zeller (0-for-4).
The back-and-forth pace continued after intermission. The Hoosiers took a 44-36 lead with 15:43 to play. But with about seven minutes to go, they were down 56-52 following Mbakwe’s three-point play.
Turning point: The game was filled with turning points. The Gophers took an early lead. Indiana bounced back. The Hoosiers seized an advantage early in the second half. Minnesota closed the gap.
The game really turned toward the end.
Austin Hollins' three-point play gave Minnesota a 61-59 edge with 4:36 to play. Then, the Gophers converted a turnover by Will Sheehey on Indiana’s next possession into an Andre Hollins 3-pointer on the other end.
A Christian Watford 3 in the final minute cut Minnesota’s lead to four points (70-66). He hit another 3-pointer with 43.9 seconds to go. But the Gophers held on. Even though they maintained their lead, Hulls' 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds to play reduced Minnesota’s edge to 76-73.
Andre Hollins was fouled on the inbounds pass. And the sophomore hit one of two free throws to extend Minnesota’s lead to the final margin of four. The Gophers intercepted Indiana’s inbounds pass to seal the victory.
Key player: Eliason scored seven consecutive points during a second-half stretch that kept Minnesota (19-9, 7-8 Big Ten) alive with Mbakwe on the bench due to foul trouble. Those were his only points, but obviously crucial. Then there’s Mbakwe. The senior led the way from start to finish (21 points, 12 rebounds, a block and a steal).
Key stat: The Gophers won despite shooting 4-for-20 from the 3-point line.
Next up: The Gophers will face Penn State on Saturday. Indiana (24-4, 12-3) will host Iowa the same day.