The IU men’s basketball team (14-8, 4-5) travels to Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers (15-8, 4-6).
Minnesota enters the contest on a three-game losing streak, with the most recent loss Wednesday at Purdue. The Golden Gophers and Boilermakers played three overtime periods before Purdue pulled out the win, 77-74.
Minnesota’s leading scorer, junior guard Andre Hollins, returned from a three-game absence against Purdue.
Hollins, who had been sidelined with an ankle injury, wasn’t expected to play Wednesday. Barring any setback, he will almost certainly suit up against the Hoosiers.
So far this season, the Golden Gophers are 12-2 at home.
That includes victories against Ohio State and Wisconsin, who they defeated by double-digit points.
Indiana enters the contest coming off one of its biggest wins of the season, a 63-52 win against No. 10 Michigan.
Sophomore guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell had a game-high 27 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the field.
After that game, IU Coach Tom Crean said for Ferrell and Indiana to be successful on offense, Ferrell has to be in constant movement.
“So he’s got to be in movement, and I thought that’s what he did well,” Crean said. “Whether it was zone, whether it was the break, whatever it was, he was really, really good in movement, and his teammates continued to move and cut. We stood around a little bit the other night (against Nebraska), and some of that was him, some of that was us, some of it was just not continuing to flash into the gaps that are there, man or zone, and today we didn’t have that issue.”
Minnesota leads the Big Ten in steals per game with 8.3. Senior guard Austin Hollins led the team with 2.1 steals per game.
Indiana, which ranks sixth in the Big Ten in steals per game, has had trouble throughout its season with turnovers.
The Hoosiers are last in the conference in turnovers per game, averaging 15.4. The next closest team to that figure is Iowa, which averages 12.1 turnovers per game.
After the Michigan game, Ferrell said Indiana is starting to execute better offensively, working the shot clock and not forcing anything.
“We may not get something in transition, but we set a play and run it,” Ferrell said. “I felt like we ran our plays very well to perfection, sprinting to our spots, setting great greens, getting Noah (Vonleh) and other guys open for open shots.
“We’re coming along with that, being more patient. Even when we’ve got to take it down in the shot clock and get the best available shot that we can.”
In Indiana’s two most recent wins, against Illinois and Michigan, they have given up 46 and 42 points. Crean said after the Michigan game it’s important for his team to maintain its focus defensively the entire game.
“So I think the difference is the energy of the hands, talking and really just staying committed to what we needed to do in that game,” he said. “These guys are learning, and this is the hardest for young guys defensively. The hardest thing for any of them is that you’ve got to continue to play through it when you’re not having a great game offensively or you’re not getting that confidence from your shot. The hard part defensively is that every game is different, and you have to understand how that other team wants to win. Against Nebraska the other night we understood it pretty well in the first half, we got away from it in the second half. Today we understood it for the entire game, and we were successful.”
Follow reporter John Bauernfiend on Twitter @JohnBauernfeind.