How it Happened
The game started with some fireworks. On a fast break, point guard Josh Newkirk missed an easy layup and the Golden Gophers (19-7, 7-6 Big Ten) raced the other way. Newkirk didn't give up on the play, though, and stole the ball back on the other end of the floor. The junior guard then tossed a long outlet that ended in a wide-open layup for James Blackmon Jr. After Blackmon Jr. made the layup, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino picked up a technical foul for wandering too far on to the floor to shout at his players. Blackmon Jr. added a pair of free throws for the technical to push the Indiana lead to 6-0. An angry Pitino took off his jacket and tie during the incident.
The opening minutes also saw tremendous energy from both teams, but few shots dropping through the hoop on either side. Minnesota missed its first seven attempts from the field before finally getting on the board with a Reggie Lynch dunk over four minutes into the game. Meanwhile the first 4:45 also saw five turnovers combined.
Turnovers continued to plague the Hoosiers (15-12, 5-9) as Minnesota got back into the game over the next several minutes. Three turnovers in a 2:43 stretch helped jump-start a 8-0 Minnesota run that gave the Golden Gophers their first lead of the night. A pair of Nate Mason 3-pointers highlighted the run for UM, but IU knotted the score at 10 when Juwan Morgan dished off to Freddie McSwain Jr. in the lane for big dunk.
The Hoosiers struggled shooting from beyond the arc, as well, for much of the first half, missing their first six shots from deep. When they finally did knock one down, it came at an opportune time. Blackmon Jr. hit from the right wing after an offensive rebound from Thomas Bryant, the big man's third of the half. The play put IU in front 17-12 and Blackmon Jr. followed with a second 3 in short order to extend the lead to 10 and make it a 12-0 Indiana run with 7:24 left in the half.
Minnesota responded, though, embarking on a 8-2 run to close the gap back to four and get the Williams Arena crowd really into the game for the first time. Mason scored four of the eight points on the run, giving him 10 for the half, although he was shooting just 3-of-10 at that juncture.
Out of the under-four timeout, Morgan put himself on the highlight reel, throwing down a big one-handed putback dunk over the Minnesota front line. The dunk extended IU's lead to six but it was one of the last positive developments for the Hoosiers in the half. Mason again led the Golden Gophers on a run, this time 11-0, to push UM back in front again. A 10-point lead for IU turned into a five-point deficit in a span of 5:51. Newkirk finally broke the Minnesota run with a triple from the left wing to tighten the game again before halftime.
The Hoosiers went into the locker room trailing 33-29 after a first half notable for both its intensity and sloppiness. The teams combined for 17 turnovers (nine for the Hoosiers) and shot under 30 percent (30 percent for IU). Mason was the offensive star for UM, racking up 18 points, while Blackmon Jr. poured in 12 to lead Indiana. The Hoosiers found themselves in foul trouble at the break, as well, as both De'Ron Davis and Newkirk picked up three in the opening half.
Minnesota extended its lead early in the second half. During one stretch, the Golden Gophers made three straight shots while Indiana missed four in a row, allowing UM to push its lead to nine at 42-33. Worse for IU, Davis picked up his fourth foul on a somewhat ticky-tack call that forced him back to the bench for an extended length of time.
Indiana wasn't done, though, and it battled back as the second half crept toward its midway point. Davis re-entered the game and immediately made his presence known, spinning through the lane for a strong old-fashioned 3-point play. Two possessions later, Morgan got the ball in transition on the left wing and pulled up several feet behind the 3-point line. The ball hit nothing but net and Morgan followed with a nice layup in traffic through a foul. He made the free throw to make it a 9-0 run for the Hoosiers and put them back in front, 51-49.
The Hoosiers held a slim lead for the next six minutes as the teams traded baskets but Minnesota wasn't able to get back in front. With 4:30 to play, Blackmon Jr. dribbled into a 3 from the right wing and nailed it to put Indiana in front 65-60. It was the largest lead for Indiana since the 4:45 mark of the opening half.
IU continued to lead as the game entered its final minutes, but Minnesota kept coming. With 1:32 left, Minnesota's Amir Coffey drove hard to the hoop, got fouled and made a pair of free throws to trim Indiana's lead to one at 70-69 and give Coffey 17 points, all in the second half. After an IU turnover, Davis fouled out after bumping into Jordan Murphy on a rebound attempt. Murphy made two free throws to put Minnesota back in front with just over a minute left.
The UM lead was still one with 30 seconds left when Indiana got the ball back in a desperate situation. The Hoosiers went to Bryant in the post and he went strong to the hoop. He missed the first shot but got the ball back and was fouled on his way up. He made both free throws to jump IU back in front with 17 seconds left.
Minnesota declined to call a timeout but it didn't end up needing it. Akeem Springs, who went just 2-for-13 on the night, missed a tough fadeaway 3, but no one boxed out Eric Curry, who grabbed the rebound and fed Springs for a layup and the lead with 3.2 seconds to go. Blackmon Jr.'s prayer at the buzzer missed off the left side of the rim and Indiana dropped a fourth straight game.
Player of the Game-Nate Mason
The junior guard went 8-for-19 from the field, including 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. It was his second 30-point performance in his last six games. Mason got his team back into the game in the first half when it looked like Indiana might run away with it early. He also grabbed three rebounds, dished off four assists and picked up two steals.
Freshmen Davis and Devonte Green started while usual starters Robert Johnson and Morgan came off the bench...The Hoosiers are 1-6 in true road games this season...Indiana has lost four in a row for the first time since it lost nine in a row to end the 2010-2011 season...With his 22 points, Blackmon Jr. moved up six spots on the all-time IU scoring list to 40th, passing Daryl Thomas, Bob Leonard, Joe Cooke, Vernon Payne and Marshall Strickland and equaling Troy Williams...IU came in eighth in the country in average rebounding margin at plus-8.2 and outrebounded the Golden Gophers 51-44...Minnesota entered the game second in the nation in blocked shots per game at 6.7; UM swatted nine Indiana attempts...Murphy's double-double was his seventh of the season.
The Hoosiers are back in action next Tuesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City to take on Iowa (14-12, 6-7). The game will tip off at 9 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on ESPN. The Hawkeyes have lost two in a row following three straight double-digit victories. They face Illinois on Saturday.