Bloomington, Ind. – All's well that ends well.
Indiana overcame the absence of Earl Calloway and some sluggish play against a bottom-tier Big Ten team before emerging with a 71-59 win over Minnesota Wednesday at Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers needed an 8-0 run midway through the second half to turn a 52-50 lead into a 10-point cushion with 6:18 remaining, and eventually won for the 14th straight time at Assembly Hall this season. The win lifted the Hoosiers to 18-8 overall and 8-5 in the Big Ten, while Minnesota fell to 9-19 and 3-11.
While Joey Shaw got things started with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Armon Bassett and D.J. White added buckets, it was the Hoosiers defense that was every bit as critical during the stretch. Errek Suhr got things started by drawing a charge from Dan Coleman, and Minnesota wouldn't score another basket until the 5:18 mark.
"I thought our defense was really good the last seven or eight minutes, and our rebounding was good – we rebounded on both ends," IU Coach Kelvin Sampson said.
D.J. White led Indiana with 17 points and six rebounds, while Rod Wilmont (16) and A.J. Ratliff (10) also reached double figures. Indiana also got a solid game from its bench, with Shaw finishing with seven points, Ben Allen chipped in four, and Lance Stemler had two points and five rebounds in 30 minutes.
While the game had long since been decided, a big bucket might have come from Stemler, who hit a 15-foot jumper with 10 seconds remaining to end a five-game shooting slump that had seen him go just 1-of-15 from the floor dating back to the Michigan game.
"The bench was good tonight," Sampson said. "Joey Shaw came in and played tougher. He had a purpose to his game. Our bench gave us some good minutes."
One of the more pleasant surprises was the play of Allen, who hadn't scored a point since the IUPUI game in December. But he entered the game early and scored on a pair of nice post moves.
"I'm happy for Ben," Sampson said. "Ben's really worked hard. He's put in a lot of time. It's almost a transformation for him. They way he's played his whole life is on the perimeter. I saw him play in September, and you could tell he was going to have to learn to defend in the post…one of the best things he did tonight was defend the post.
"His confidence will get going."
Minnesota, meanwhile, lost for the sixth straight time and for the eighth time in nine road games. The were led by Dan Coleman and Lawrence McKenzie, who scored 20 points apiece.
"It's hard when you're losing to play with great effort, and I thought (our kids) played with great effort tonight against a very good team," Minnesota Coach Jim Molinari said.
It was a much needed with for the Hoosiers, who had lost three out of four during the last two weeks and must travel to East Lansing Saturday to play a red-hot Michigan State team that knocked off top-ranked Wisconsin last night.
"This time of year, we're 8-5 (in the Big Ten) and 18-8 (overall), and you put it in your back pocket and move on," Sampson said.
D. White 6-14 5-8 17, M. White 2-5 1-4 5, Bassett 4-6 0-0 8, Bassett 4-6 0-0 8, Wilmont 5-14 3-4 16, Ratliff 4-8 0-0 10, Suhr 1-3 0-0 2, Allen 2-2 0-0 4, Stemler 1-4 0-0 2, Shaw 1-2 4-4 7. Totals 26-58 13-20 71.
Coleman 8-14 4-5 20, Abu-Shamala 0-2 0-0 0, Webster 0-0 0-0 0, McKenzie 4-9 9-10 20, Westbrook 3-9 1-2 8, Payton 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 1-2 4-4 7, Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 0-1 0-1 0, Tollackson 2-6 0-0 4. Totals 18-44 18-22 59.
3-Pointers: Indiana 6-15 (Wilmont 3-5, Ratliff 2-4, Shaw 1-1, Bassett 0-2, Stemler 0-2, Suhr 0-1), Minnesota 5-13 (McKenzie 3-4, Westbrook 1-4, Smith 1-2, Abu-Shamala 0-1, Johnson 0-1, Tollackson 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 33 (D. White 6, Shaw 6), Minnesota 26 (Coleman 6). Assists: Indiana 11 (Wilmont 3, Ratliff 3), Minnesota 5 (Coleman, McKenzie, Westbrook, Payton, Smith). Turnovers: Indiana 7 (D. White 2, Wilmont 2, Bassett 2), Minnesota 13 (Coleman 3, Westbrook 3). Blocks: Indiana 5 (D. White 3), Minnesota 3 (Coleman, Smith, Johnson). Steals: Indiana 4 (D. White 2, Bassett 2), Minnesota 3 (McKenzie 2). Officials: William Bush, Winston Stith, Randy Heimerman. Attendance: 17,228.