Much like their road wins at Rutgers and Nebraska, it wasn't pretty for the Hoosiers against a struggling Minnesota club on Saturday afternoon. But the Hoosiers rebounded from an early deficit and earned a difficult 70-63 win over the Gophers to move to 5-0 in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers have won 10 consecutive games overall since their loss at Duke.
Here are five things you need to know from Saturday's win:
1. YOGI FERRELL SHOULD BE ON THE WOODEN WATCH LIST: How Yogi Ferrell was left off the Wooden Watch List, I don't know. The senior guard is as consistent as any player in the country, and he's helped lead his team back after a bad trip to Maui in November.
Ferrell had to handle a large portion of the scoring load on Saturday because he got little help from running mates Robert Johnson (2 points, 4 fouls) and Troy Williams (7 points, 8 rebounds). Ferrell finished with 20 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and only 1 turnover in 37 minutes. He looked exhausted at times in the second half, but had to stay in the game because of Johnson's foul trouble and lack of production.
Ferrell's 7 assists moved him past Quinn Buckner for 2nd on Indiana's all-time assists list with 544 career assists. He's now only one behind Michael Lewis for 1st.
"It's a great honor," Ferrell said. "But I've played with a lot of great teammates all four years at Indiana who basically get my assists for me.
"I definitely want the milestones, but the main thing I want is the win."
When Indiana got into any sort of trouble on Saturday, it was clear that Ferrell wanted it more than anyone else on the floor. Even as the game reached the final minutes, Ferrell was still diving desperately on the floor for loose balls. He was terrific, and IU needed everything Ferrell gave on Saturday.
2. MINNESOTA WAS HUNGRY AND DESPERATE: Richard Pitino's team had been embarrassed with back-to-back 25-point losses against Northwestern and Nebraska and seemed to bring a much better effort against the Hoosiers. The Gophers, who ranked 262nd nationally in defensive efficiency entering the game, were very physical with Indiana and double teamed the post every time Thomas Bryant or Max Bielfeldt caught it.
That led to a number of turnovers from the IU bigs, and quite frankly, IU looked a little surprised at Minnesota's defensive effort in the first half. The Gophers got away with a lot of illegal contact, and despite their physicality, they still attempted 18 more free throws than the Hoosiers (30-12).
Because of Minnesota's 0-5 start to Big Ten play, the Hoosiers had to fight for 40 minutes with the desperate Gophers, and they were able to do just that. Minnesota hasn't been good in recent history, but the Hoosiers had still lost 6 of their last 7 games at The Barn, and they have historically struggled at Minnesota.
"We're really proud of this win because we had to earn it," Crean said. "We knew that we would have to here. I don't get caught up in people's records as much as you look at what they're capable of, you look at their potential. And they have that. We knew we were playing a very aggressive, dangerous team."
3. ZEISLOFT BREAKS OUT OF SLUMP: Nick Zeisloft entered Saturday's game shooting just 16 percent (4-of-25) from beyond the arc in Big Ten play. He was 0-of-7 against Ohio State last Sunday, and he missed his first two attempts against Minnesota.
With the Hoosiers really struggling to find offense, Zeisloft broke out of his shooting slump by burying four consecutive 3-pointers over a 2-minute stretch in the first half. Zeisloft made 5-of-8 from distance in the game for 15 points, and the Hoosiers needed every one of them.
"He was like our defibrillator," Bielfeldt said. "We had a little irregular heartbeat and he hit those big ones to get us going."
Because of Zeisloft's shooting effort, Indiana entered halftime tied with the Gophers at 34-all. Minnesota had led by 9 points halfway through the first half.
"Nick just lit everybody up for us," Crean said. "Obviously it's three points on the scoreboard, but when our guys see him make shots, that's a big, big thing to them. It was great to see that first one go in for him, and his confidence just grew. I think our team's confidence grew because of it, too."
4. BRYANT SITS DOWN THE STRETCH: It was an up-and-down day for freshman big man Thomas Bryant. He finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds, but he sat for the last 7-plus minutes because of his difficulty guarding high ball screens. Bryant struggled to get back to his man after showing on the ball handler, leading to a couple of easy baskets for Minnesota.
Bryant also had four turnovers in the game, a result of holding the ball too long in the post when double teams came. Crean chose to go with his veterans -- Bielfeldt and Collin Hartman -- down the stretch.
5. OG LEAVES GAME WITH CONCUSSION-LIKE SYMPTOMS: Freshman OG Anunoby left the game late in the second half after taking an elbow from his own teammate, Hartman. Anunoby immediately went to the locker room, and video from the Big Ten Network showed him looking a little dazed as he made his way off the court.
Anunoby went to the locker room, was cleared according to Crean, and then returned for the end of the game.
"I think he's fine," Crean said. "He was fine in the locker room. I haven't gotten any other update than that."