For the second consecutive game, the IU men’s basketball team (14-9, 4-6) squandered a second half lead on the road, falling to the Minnesota Golden Gophers 66-60. The loss leaves IU tied with Nebraska for eighth place in the Big Ten, and its NCAA Tournament chances were dealt another blow.
The Hoosiers were sharp early in the first half, building a 13-point lead. They had key contributions from freshman wing Troy Williams, who scored Indiana’s first nine points of the game.
Sophomore forward Jeremy Hollowell scored nine points in 13 minutes off the bench. Hollowell punctuated an 11-0 Indiana scoring run off of Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell’s missed 3-pointer, and got fouled in the process.
At that point in the game, with eight minutes and 30 seconds left in the first half, IU led 26-13. Minnesota went on a 7-0 run, capped by a Malik Smith layup.
At the end of the first half, the Hoosiers held a 36-30 lead. Minnesota, the Big Ten leader in steals per game, forced IU into only five turnovers that half. Early in the second half the Hoosiers’ ability to hold onto the ball hanged, as Indiana turned over the ball four times during the first three minutes.
IU Coach Tom Crean said the difference in the game’s two halves were a result of turnover and awareness issues.
“They’re gonna make a run, everybody knows that,” Crean said. “The difference is we had some turnovers in the second half and we had some awareness issues at the end of possessions.”
Minnesota scored 10 points off 11 IU second half turnovers. And though the Hoosiers shot 45.5 percent from the field in the second, they only took 22 shots.
After Minnesota tied the game three minutes and two seconds into the second half, the Hoosiers went on an 8-0 run. Minnesota, though, went on a 15-3 to capture its first lead of the game with 10 minutes 54 seconds left to play.
The game went back and forth from there, and Minnesota’s Joey King hit a jumper with 56 seconds left in the game to give the Golden Gophers a four-point lead. On IU’s next possession, Ferrell missed a 3-pointer. But freshman forward Noah Vonleh stole the ball made a layup, cutting Minnesota’s lead to one point.
IU decided not to foul on the ensuing Minnesota possession. If it had worked, the Hoosiers would have been down two with 10 seconds to play. The strategy didn’t pay off, though, as DeAndre Mathieu skated by Evan Gordon for a layup, putting the game out of reach.
After the game Vonleh — who recorded his tenth double-double of the season and fourth in Big Ten play with 12 points and 12 rebounds — simply said, “It really sucks.”
“They were trying to trap, but I think we just need to get guys in the right spots to get open and just push the ball up the floor,” Vonleh said. “I think we were just rushing too much.”
IU had four players score in double-figures, led by Ferrell with 14. After his 27-point performance in IU’s previous game against Michigan, Ferrell struggled shooting, going 5-of-16 from the field and 2-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Crean said afterward that IU can’t focus on this game for too long and must transition into preparation for its next opponent, Penn State.
“We want to learn from this and be better tomorrow,” Crean said. “We don’t get much ahead of tomorrow. You just can’t. You’ve gotta learn from what you just did. But we want to make sure we learn it and keep applying it and keep practicing the way were practicing and get ready for a very good Penn State team.”