Hoosiers top Minnesota at home, 82-72

Once a free throw pinged off the front of the rim Wednesday, it was back to the hardwood for the Hoosiers and Gophers.

Indiana’s Armaan Franklin landed on top of Minnesota’s Brandon Johnson. Al Durham’s arms came in for the ball, as well, before the whistle blew. It was a picture of two desperate teams, in a six-point game, with five minutes left, just scrapping for every opportunity.

But it’s what happened next that allowed the Hoosiers to stay ahead in an 82-72 win at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. While the possession stayed with the Gophers, Durham sat down low in a defensive stance as Jamal Mashburn Jr. waited for a screener. Jerome Hunter, sticking right by Liam Robbins, hedged hard as Mashburn came around the corner.

The possession ended with a pass around the arc to Tre’ Williams, who had little choice but to hoist a contested 3-pointer. His shot went wide. The ball was back in IU’s hands.

“We played team defense,” Durham said. “I felt like we were spread out for most of the game. But in the last couple minutes, we finally locked in.”

For much of the night, IU’s defense wasn’t its strength. The combo of Mashburn and Marcus Carr created headaches on the perimeter, zipping toward the rim as the Hoosiers relinquished six-point leads in both the first and second halves. On the strength of a 57.8-percent shooting night, IU was often ahead. But not by much.

But when it mattered most, the Hoosiers buckled down. After consecutive 3s by Durham and Franklin pushed the lead to 61-55 with 6:41 remaining, two free throws were all the Gophers would manage for nearly three minutes. During a 10-0 run that followed those two freebies, the Gophers were in the emptiest part of a 3-of-16 shooting stretch from the field.

“We finally strung a couple of stops together,” Durham said, “and it led to our offense, and it led to that gap that we made at the end of the game.”

So when two desperate teams came off the floor Wednesday, it was the Hoosiers (12-9, 7-7 Big Ten) who claimed a pivotal home win. It was the Gophers (13-9, 6-9) who suffered a setback in their NCAA tournament pursuit.

It was a physical battle. At times, IU wasn’t exactly strong with the ball, surrendering 17 turnovers. But when it mattered most, the Hoosiers didn’t fold. They triumphed.

“Every team from here on out is going to try and test us, just because of the team they think we are,” IU forward Jerome Hunter said. “As long as they keep doing that, we’re just going to keep showing them that we are not going to be pushed around down there … we not soft over here.”

The Hoosiers, now winners of three of their last four games, have a chance to create some momentum with Saturday’s noon tilt with Michigan State. There are a few aspects of Wednesday’s win that can be built upon, too.

For one, IU’s star sophomore forward, Trayce Jackson-Davis, finally got off to a good start. After a five-game stretch where he failed to log a field goal in the first 10 minutes of those contests, Jackson-Davis went 3-of-4 in the first four-plus minutes Wednesday, eventually finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Along with his production, the Hoosiers also had Durham (16), Hunter (16), Franklin (11), and Rob Phinisee (10) in double figures.

The turnover issues will have to be corrected, including four errors apiece for Durham and Phinisee. But the veteran backcourt duo was also a combined 9-of-13 from the floor, and Phinisee dished out six assists. There were more instances where Phinisee was aggressive off the dribble, as well, which has been sorely lacking this season.

“He’s been, in my opinion, worrying about offense too much, worrying about if his shot is going to go in, worrying about a turnover here or there,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “He starts to get dead on his feet. We don’t need Rob, to be honest with you, to do anything other than try like crazy, be a leader on defense, push our ball, make guys better, shoot when you’re open. I think tonight, he kept it simple.”

Minnesota was without one of its top scoring options, Gabe Kalscheur, who broke his hand in practice during the week. That made defending the Gophers somewhat of a simpler task.

Both Carr and Mashburn, however, were able to produce 19 points apiece out of the backcourt. They were able to cut into IU’s leads, especially when turnovers were feeding them added opportunities. In the first half, the Gophers held an 11-0 edge in points off turnovers, helping them take a 37-35 edge into halftime.

But when the Hoosiers took care of it, they had the stroke to capitalize. One especially hot player was Hunter, who connected for a career-high point total and drained two crucial 3s. Both came in the second half, as the Hoosiers pushed ahead 52-46.

Hunter, who missed two games this season due to a coach’s decision, seems to have responded to his benching.

“He’s playing like he’s practicing right now. He’s playing to win,” Miller said. “He’s got great confidence in his shot, he’s not hesitating. He’s playing through mistakes. And he’s giving us a little bit of physicality, a little bit of ruggedness, which is what we need.”

After IU’s six-point lead evaporated, Hunter and his teammates did the dirty work necessary to win. Minnesota finished the night at 40 percent shooting, including just 4-of-20 from 3-point range. It led to the Gophers’ eighth straight loss on the road this season, making them the only team in the Big Ten without a road win.

It was a win Minnesota could have used. But the Hoosiers needed it just as much. They seemed to want it just a bit more.

“I thought we made the little plays tonight that we needed, key plays, tie-ups on the floor,” Miller said. “Our physical toughness, our physical size, is in question. Our attitude and the way we approach things as a team is not. This team worked really hard coming into this game … and they are going to come back and be ready to go. That’s why this team has a chance to be good at the right time.”

38 comments

  1. Great win! The second half was some seriously good ball movement, hitting open shots and making free throws down the stretch. Needed this one and they got it.

    Late game for you folks on the EST!

    1. ^^^ Bingo! Nice win with still room for improvement. Team has great upside, as in Sweet 16 potential.

  2. Besides IU, Kansas, and Rutgers, who still has Adidas as their sponsor. Wisconsin and Notre Dame were and went to Under Armour in the past few years. Does anyone think that is hurting recruiting? I’d like us to go to Under Armour. Think we could get better recruits?

    1. Stanford, Louisville, Arizona State, Nebraska, Georgia Tech, Miami, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Washington are others. After all the investigations on improprieties I don’t think it is a big of a deal anymore.

  3. Too many turnovers…but the shooting was phenomenal. Another team win where many contributed.

    So much for having terrible shooters…Lol. Steadily improving from the perimeter (not sure if we missed a triple in the first half) and Durham has been spectacular at the charity stripe.
    Good bounce back win after OSU loss.

  4. I knew there were others, but the schools I mentioned were top of mind. I was really referring to the “coolness” factor. Do you think the brand influences the kids decisions at all?

    1. As I said before, I hope not as much since the pay to play fiasco happened a few years ago. All three brands are quality brands. First and foremost is playing ball. It would be interesting to hear a recruit say, “It came down to 3 schools and I picked the one because I really like the look of their uniforms and shoes.”

  5. What does our shoe & apparel sponsor have to do with this game? These sponsorships are all about $. If UA came to us with a bigger pile of cash our AD & Admin would jump at it. Don’t kid yourselves. And also don’t think for a minute that there still isn’t manipulation ongoing in the background and pockets being greased to land recruits. There wasn’t much fallout from the prior fiasco & the NCAA was ill-prepared to see it through.

    1. ^^^Completely agree with AZ…..And why wasn’t their much fallout?

      I did buy a pair of Under Armour Spawn 2 basketball shoes ….and they’re the most damn comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. I pair them up with some wool socks I bought from Red Wing and wear them around the house…So, so comfortable. First pair of Under Armour tennis/basketball shoes I’ve ever purchased and my feet have never felt so perfect in a shoe. Love them…

  6. Hardly a great win. It’s a win over an average team that IU is suppose to beat by 10 points (at least) in IU gym. Good job of winning the game.

  7. t have you scheduled your Optirectomy, yet? You need to get your eyeballs disconnected from your rectum. You have such a crappy outlook on everything.

    1. DD, T is right on. It was a win that we were suppose to win. Not trashing the win just not overstating it. To be sure, if IU had lost it would have been called a bad loss not an acceptable one.

      1. I like t and agree with him on many topics (even many outside the game of basketball), but he measures the women’s and men’s programs via a totally different standard.

        How much longer should the men’s standard be immensely higher because of five very dusty old banners?

        The standard should be against our BigTen peers…I suppose. I don’t think Archie has been given a fair shot to even live up to that standard. He inherited a team and had to honor scholarships of those he never recruited. He did the right thing by giving those he didn’t recruit to reach their potential. He has faced a March Madness cancellation…and a season during a pandemic. He had an unexpected transfer of one of the best of his inherited players (Smith) and an unforeseen massive disruption due to the loss of Brunk to a back injury.

        What you’re supposed to do? Where was that 8 years into the last coach? Archie should get ‘Coach of the Year’…Our inside play was stripped of guys who had a lot of experience under the belt. We’ve been in five overtimes and the team has fought its ass off.

        You guys need to get real….This has nothing to do with lowering expectations. It has to do with equal assessment and looking at the extreme positives considering the setbacks.

        Good bunch of kids who seem to like each other and our elevating their games at the right time…

      2. I think ‘t’ should consider using uppercase ‘T’ when on the women’s threads while slathering Teri with praise. Lowercase should be reserved for getting on Archie’s case.

  8. I know we aren’t great 3-point shooters, but with Michigan looming, I’d like to see us shooting more from outside. We have to get our attempts up. Assuming quality attempts. We’re dead last in the Big Ten in attempts and losing close games throughout the year.

    We’re shooting the ball much better now. Let it fly.

    1. Your are absolutely correct DD. A few articles ago I posted some stats & we are shooting the 3 at roughly the same %, within 0.5% as I recall, to the opponents % in our match-ups. (Our 3pt. D is pretty good.) But we were shooting 4.5 fewer/game, as I recall. Hit 1 or 2 more of those 4.5 and we’d have won a couple more games. And frankly, I’d rather shoot an open 3 than throw the ball into the bleachers or our opponents hands. Last year we notably increased our 3 pt. % down the stretch as well over the last 10 games.

      We came to play last night. It was clear from the tip that we were locked in on both ends. Can we do it again on Sat.??? Early Sat. and Sun. tips really concern me as it seems we show up asleep.

    2. Actually, our Big Ten 3pt % only trails our opponents by 0.003%. And for all of those who say we can’t shoot, our FG% is identical to the opponents.

  9. It was a solid W. Hitting shots has been a roadblock to more W’s. Spike in turnovers almost neutralized the strong shooting %. Free throws in the 1st half also squandered dominating the score. With so many opportunities for improvement I’m liking AWinAZ thoughts of the achieving in the tournament. I think with Coach Miller holding Hunter’s feet to the fire now is the time give him starters responsibilities and watch him perform. He reminds me some of Mike Woodson. Only stronger underneath. Now’s the time to let his game grow. Time will tell but he could be the go to scorer IUBB has needed.

  10. The movement away from the ball in the 2nd half was excellent. Hunter was really great running the baseline last night. He was getting so good at it, he threw the ball away under the basket in what would have been an another easy dunk.

    I have no predictions for this team. They’ve been way to volatile from one game to the next to feel comfortable staking any claims in either direction. I will say, when this team is playing well, their ceiling is a lot higher than I thought it was. But what Indiana hasn’t done at all this season is look good for 2 games in a row. They play well, they play poorly. The play well, they play poorly. All the way to .500 conference record.

    If they are going to get to the 2nd weekend of the NCAAs, they will first have to show that they can stop patting themselves on the back after a win and stay hungry to win in the next game.

  11. We’ve been hitting a lot of teams in desperation mode….(teams in dire need of a road win on a resume or simply needing to stop temporary losing streaks)..
    Northwestern was trying to right their ship…Iowa (when they came to Bloomington ) was attempting to break a brief skid and slippage in national rankings (seeding, folks).
    Getting “desperation mode” teams are sometimes the most difficult games to secure wins….Everyone in the BigTen is capable of knocking off any opposing team in the conference…The margins of error are very small. MSU is coming off of a loss at West Lafayette-to-have-a-banner and they now are in “desperation mode.” Izzo losing his mojo? He’s in desperation mode.
    I agree with Archie Miller’s postgame comments last night…Don’t look at records. If you assess MSU based on their record, you are in for a long night. MSU is another team we’ll face of late that is in a “must win” situation. At minimum, they need to put three or four wins together to simply have an outside chance to get a March Madness ticket punched. a.k.a….Desperation Mode.

    Timing is everything in this very tough league top to bottom…Hope you don’t get too many teams successively which are in DESPERATION MODE. Have I said “DESPERATION MODE” enough times yet?
    The pandemic has pretty much nullified a home court advantage. The challenge? Can you handle a fair share of teams needing to turn the tide (whether home or away)? Can you still win against quality conference opponents who have their backs against the wall? I think we’ve done a pretty darn good job against some very hungry squads attempting to justify their pedigree or must stop their own bleeding of successive losses.

    And speaking of DESPERATION MODE, I’m picking Penn State in a mild upset over OSU tonight. There is no “major” upset in the present world of BigTen men’s basketball.
    OSU is riding high in the clouds and Penn State is another “desperation mode” team hungry to prove they are worthy of prime time and worthy of more respect than a Sunday noon tip-off (what was recently given to the Indiana Hoosiers). We’ll see if the theory holds….

      1. They should be….but many of the teams we’ve caught of late are trying to end losing streaks, find one away win….or right the ship. Maybe it’s level of desperation. But you’re right, t. Our desperation mode should be equally high.

  12. From my vantage point, it was a “satisfying” win. It wasn’t a great win because we beat a bad team at home, and Minn is an especially bad team on the road this season (0 for 9). But it was satisfying to get a double digit win and to see above-average shooting combined with the usual strong defense. 58.3% from 3-point range was excellent, as was a FG percentage of 57.8%. And I was astonished to watch us make 76.7% of our FT attempts last night. Has this roster ever made 23 of 30 FT attempts?

    My only source of concern last night were the 17 turnovers. From my vantage point, many of the turnovers made in the second half were caused by sloppiness, not because of MN’s good defense.

    If this IU roster can reproduce the improved shooting we watched last night, this team might make it into the NCAA tournament and play more than one game. That would be cause for optimism.

  13. Another reason for optimism is that Logan Duncomb has been invited to play in the McDonalds all America game. That’s a pleasant surprise! We knew he was good and had a lot of upside, but few believed he was a McDonald’s All American. Good for him and good for IU!

    1. My bad! I wrote that Duncomb had been invited to play in the McDonald’s All America game. That’s not true, yet! Actually, he is one of 70 players who have been nominated for the honor. Sorry for my error.

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  15. The only real downside in this game was the turnovers.

    The great thing to see was the three point shooting. Franklin’s ankle must feel better. He should shoot a three any time he has a shot.

    It will be interesting to see if Hunter has finally found his shot or if that was a bit flukish. He sure looked good doing it!

    I wonder how Brunk and Stewart are doing.

  16. MSU gets Aaron Henry from Ben Davis high school and the heart of Indianapolis…We got Romeo of New Albany with all the odds of a one-and-done slot machine pull on an Ohio riverboat casino. Who was the better pick?

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