Bloomington, Ind. - D.J. White might not have the most picturesque performance to remember in his final game at Assembly Hall.
But he has a victory nonetheless.
Indiana outscored Minnesota 21-7 over the final 7:58 to blow open a back-and-forth game and give White and fellow seniors Lance Stemler, Mike White and Adam Ahlfeld a 69-55 win over Minnesota on Senior Night.
Indiana improved to 25-5 overall and 14-3 in the Big Ten, while Minnesota dropped to 18-11 overall and 8-9 in the Big Ten.
With their fleeting Big Ten title hopes on the line, the Hoosiers struggled all night against a Gopher team that was looking for a NCAA resume-stuffing road win. But after a Lawrence McKenzie free throw tied the game at 48 with 7:58 remaining, Indiana finally put things together down the stretch. Armon Bassett hit his third 3-pointer of the game to give IU a 54-50 lead with 5:41 remaining, and Eric Gordon scored eight points during the decisive run to lift Indiana to the win.
"The last eight minutes we committed to making sure D.J. White, Lance Stemler, Mike White and Adam Ahlfeld would get to the microphone with a happy ending," IU Coach Dan Dakich said.
While the night was about the seniors, a couple of non-seniors helped make sure the outgoing players went out with a win. Gordon shook off a sluggish start to lead the way with 20 points, including a 12-of-14 effort from the free-throw line. Junior Jamarcus Ellis, meanwhile, added 10 points and a team-high 13 rebounds.
D.J. White finished with 17 points, five rebounds, two blocks, three steals, and his first career 3-pointer, which he knocked down from 30 feet as the first-half buzzer sounded to give Indiana four-point lead.
"I knew it was going in when it left my hand," White said afterwards. "It was lucky, but I could tell it was going in."
It was one of a handful of jump shots that White made on the night. While he usually relies on his ability to dominate the paint and the glass, White did much of his damage from 12-feet and out and finished 7-of-12 from the floor.
"Your best shot is to make him take a jump shot, get a hand in his face and hope his misses it," said Minnesota Coach Tubby Smith. "But he was making it tonight. You expect that from great players. They have to will themselves and we have to do things to try and take him out of it. He made the jump shots…there is no question he is as talented a player as there is in the league."
If there's a more talented player it might be his teammate Eric Gordon, who made only 4-of-11 shots and missed all four of his 3-point attempts, but still managed to score at least 20 points for the 18th time this season.
"We did a good job on him in the first half, but great players, they find a way to overcome anything you put on them," said Smith. "He's a good one."
The win wasn't pretty, but it made for a much more joyous evening for the 17,346 in attendance as well as the seniors. Dakich said following Sunday's 29-point drubbing in East Lansing that it was critical for the team to rebound and send the seniors out with a win, and IU found a way to do just that.
Afterwards the four seniors addressed the crowd, and as is tradition thanked friends, family, teammates, coaches and anyone else they could think of for their support during their stays in Bloomington.
Ahlfeld had the most fun with the crowd, joking that he's learned one thing during his four years in Bloomington.
"When I play, we win," the walk-on joked. "If we want to put up banner number six, I need to be playing."
While Ahlfeld, Stemler and Mike White were warmly received and enjoyed their time behind the mike, the night belonged to D.J. White. The likely Big Ten Player of the Year has established himself as one of the great big men in the history of IU basketball, and the sell-out crowd drowned him with chants and support before the game, during it, and afterwards.
"It means a lot," White said of the fans' affinity for him. "There have been a lot of great players to come through this program, and for the fans to love me like those players means a lot to me."
D. White 7-12 2-2 17, Stemler 1-4 0-0 2, Bassett 3-11 2-2 11, Ellis 4-7 2-2 10, Gordon 4-11 12-14 20, Thomas 0-1 0-0 0, Finkelmeier 0-0 0-0 0, Crawford 2-7 2-2 7, M. White 0-0 0-0 0, Ahlfeld 0-0 0-0 0, Taber 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-54 20-22 69.
Coleman 6-13 0-0 14, Tollackson 0-2 0-0 0, McKenzie 6-14 6-11 22, Westbrook 2-6 4-4 8, Abu-Shamala 0-0 0-0 0, Nolen 0-2 0-0 0, Williams 3-4 0-2 6, Hoffarber 0-3 0-0 0, Johnson 2-5 0-0 5. Totals 19-49 10-17 55.
3-Pointers: Indiana 5-21 (Bassett 3-9, Crawford 1-4, D. White 1-1, Stemler 0-2, Gordon 0-4), Minnesota 7-19 (McKenzie 4-9, Coleman 2-3, Johnson 1-3, Hoffarber 0-2, Westbrook 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 34 (Ellis 13), Minnesota 30 (Coleman 8). Assists: Indiana 8 (Bassett 3), Minnesota 7 (Nolen 3). Turnovers: Indiana 10, Minnesota 16. Blocks: Indiana 4 (D. White 2, Gordon 2), Minnesota 5 (Coleman 3, Johnson 2). Steals: Indiana 11, Minnesota 4. Officials: Ted Hillary, J.D. Collins, Mike Sanzere. Attendance: 17,346.
Seniors Go Out in Style
Peegs.com Top Stories
Feeney happy to be back on the fieldIndiana offensive lineman Dan Feeney spoke to the media about his first game action in more than a month.
Peegs.comYesterday at 1:02 PM
Coach TV: Johns talks offensive woes, TerpsEarlier today offensive coordinator Kevin Johns met with the media as Indiana works to solve its offensive woes and prepares for the challenge ahead with Maryland on Saturday.
Peegs.comYesterday at 9:16 AM
Video intro: Sophomore walk-on Johnny JagerToday we begin our video profiles of some of the Hoosier newcomers with an interview with walk-on transfer Johnny Jager.
Peegs.comYesterday at 5:57 AM
Hoosiers in the NFL: Week 7Each week Peegs.com checks in on the all the action in the NFL and how former Hoosier players are doing around the league. This week we take a look at how eight former Indiana…
Peegs.comYesterday at 5:28 AM