In IU’s three conference wins, senior Devan Dumes scored 11, 13 and 15 points.
He scored 10 when IU lost to Illinois by six points on Jan. 9.
He had 11 at Illinois on Jan. 30 and 11 against Purdue on Feb. 4 — a pair of games each decided by one possession.
Last weekend, the Hoosier team suffered its biggest loss of the season with Dumes out with an illness.
Dumes has had his ups and downs with IU the last two seasons, often shown by his shot selection.
But to say he hasn’t been a key player for IU, at least during the Big Ten season, would be wrong.
Love him or hate him, Dumes has grown and is showing that with his recent ability to drive.
He’ll keep firing up some deep 3-pointers, but with a team that has had a limited number of go-to guys on offense during the last two seasons, he deserves some credit.
In IU’s 23-point loss Saturday, Dumes missed 11 shots.
But he hit six of them, including a 4-of-9 performance from beyond the arc, on the way to scoring 20 of the team’s 58 points.
The starters, meanwhile, combined for 31 points on just 10-of-35 shooting from the floor.
Still, Dumes’ efforts Saturday might be almost trivial. Similar to the tree falling in the forest dilemma, if a player scores 20 points off the bench in a 23-point loss, does it really matter?
The Hoosiers best efforts came from Dumes and junior Jeremiah Rivers — the two IU
players most ridiculed this season for their offensive decision making. Rivers complemented Dumes’ 20 points with 10 of his own on 4-of-6 shooting.
It wasn’t the Hoosiers’ worst game by any means. The Golden Gophers have a long-shot NCAA Tournament bid and they certainly played like a team with more on the line.
IU got abused in the paint again, however, getting outscored 38-16. The Hoosiers have now been dominated in the paint 110-50 during the last three contests.
“We have to do a better job of really getting up into people, and at the same time we have to hold our own and guard the dribble better,” IU coach Tom Crean said “We gave up too much penetration and we gave up too many shots.”
As a result, Minnesota hit 55.4 percent of its shots.
Certainly, as in the case of Gopher center Ralph Sampson’s hook shot late in the first half, some attempts were well defended but still went down.
Similarly, IU had a number of good looks, but couldn’t get them all to fall. At the same time, the Hoosiers continue to get blocked more than Rudy Ruettiger during a Notre Dame football practice.
IU has had 31 of its 250 shot attempts blocked in the last five games, or 12.4 percent of them. The Gophers, the Big Ten’s best shot-blocking team, swatted the Hoosiers seven times on Saturday.
IU continues to get beat on both ends of the floor. While it is often a result of stronger opponents, the Hoosier team isn’t doing itself any favors.
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