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Monday, March 4
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Minnesota post players dominate IU

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Despite the best efforts of IU’s guards, a dominant performance by Minnesota post players cost IU Tuesday in Minneapolis as the Golden Gophers downed the No. 1 Hoosiers 77-73.

“We knew we were walking in here to face a desperate team and they played like a desperate team,” Indiana Associate Head Coach Steve McClain said.

Mbakwe, a burly sixth-year forward who begin his career at Marquette in IU Coach Tom Crean’s final season there, scored 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting to lead his team as he abused sophomore forward Cody Zeller all evening.

“That’s a grown man that’s one of the best rebounders in this country,” Crean said. “He was the toughest guy on the floor tonight.”

The slender Zeller, IU leading scorer entering the game managed just nine points as he was effectively neutralized by Mbakwe and Minnesota reserve center Elliot
Eliason.

Zeller did post seven rebounds on the night to lead IU, but the Hoosiers were utterly outmanned on the glass all evening, losing the rebound battle 44-30.

Entering Tuesday the two squads led the conference in rebounding margin.

With 23 offensive boards, the Gophers were able to overcome poor shooting for much of the evening simply by the volume of shots they took. They finished with 21 second-chance points to just eight for IU after rebounding 53.5 percent of their missed shots.

Mbawke established himself early and often, scoring Minnesota’s first six points by muscling through for a pair of post plays and hitting an uncharacteristic 15-foot jump shot.

“We’re very fortunate to get the win,” Minnesota Coach Tubby Smith said. “Trevor Mbakwe set the tone early on.”

His efforts extended to defense on a block from behind Zeller on an early layup.
Just as one of the biggest Gophers helped Minnesota early, though, one of the smallest Hoosiers helped Indiana roar back.

Senior guard Jordan Hulls launched a bevy of long jumpers to fuel an IU run as he scored 14 in the first half. His best scoring effort in the Big Ten season came in the teams’ meeting in Assembly Hall, when he had 19 points.

Trailing 16-10 less than seven minutes in, IU unleashed a 13-2 run and never trailed the rest of the half. However, persistent misses by Zeller and freshman guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell prevented IU from boosting the lead beyond 34-30 at the break.

Mbakwe started the second half in similar strong fashion to the first. He scored two quick buckets to tie the game, then tricked Zeller into a travel with nimble footwork on defense.

Hulls, on the other hand, did not match his first half, missing a pair of jumpers.

Ferrell found his shot after an 0-for-5 first half. With a contested layup against several much larger Gophers, then a deep 3-point jumper, Ferrell helped IU once again take a two possession lead.

Once again, it would not last. The teams traded shots for several minutes before Eliason scored seven straight to tie it up.

Even in the back-and-forth of the game’s first 30 minutes, several notable names remained unusually quiet.

Zeller remained out of sync all evening, while Andre Hollins, the hero of Minnesota’s near-comeback in Assembly Hall with 25 points, missed shot after shot early before finishing with 16 points.

Hollins missed his first six 3-point point attempts Tuesday, but when he finally connected well into the second half, the conversion gave Minnesota its first lead of the period.

Zeller responded with a breakaway layup and an and-one conversion to give IU the edge by a single point, 59-58 with 4:39 remaining.

It would be the Hoosiers’ last lead of the night.

Minnesota reeled off a 12-4 run to take a seven-point lead. Senior forward Christian Watford prolonged the agony, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers to twice cut the deficit to four points.

With less than a half minute remaining, IU looked to have one last chance as junior guard Victor Oladipo had an open look at a 3-pointer from the left corner that would cut the Gopher lead to three.

However, Rodney Williams, launching himself from the paint, cleanly blocked the shot and preserved Minnesota’s two-possession lead.

Hulls, IU’s leading scorer with 17 points, would hit a deep 3-pointer himself. By that point, though, it was too late. Free throws sealed the upset for Minnesota.

“It means a whole lot,” Williams said. “Any time you get the No. 1 team in your house, you want to play your best and get the W.”

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