Lights-out Gophers trounce IU

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Minnesota caught fire from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half, and by the time the Golden Gophers cooled off, they were well on their way to a blowout victory.

The Golden Gophers were up by double digits at the 11:04 mark and never looked back in an 81-58 route of Indiana in front of 14,625 at Williams Arena on Saturday. Minnesota shot 7-for-11 from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half, making their first five attempts. The Gophers finished 9-for-20 from beyond the arc and shot 55.4 percent (31-for-56) from the field.

“I’ll have to watch the film, but I think it’s a little of both,” IU coach Tom Crean said when asked if Minnesota’s brilliant shooting was a credit to the Gophers or the Hoosiers’ lck of defense. “I don’t think we challenged shots great. They beat us off the dribble a little bit too much. We’ve gotta get better there.”

Minnesota senior guard Lawrence Westbrook led the Gophes with 20 points, knocking down four of six 3-point attempts. Senior forward Damian Johnson had 16 points and 10 rebounds and sophomore center Ralph Sampson III added 11 points and eight rebounds.

The Hoosiers, meanwhile, struggled to get the ball inside against the Gophers lengthy big men, getting blocked seven times. They moved the ball better on the perimeter, but didn’t hit enough shots to make it matter as they shot 6-for-21 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Sophomore guard Verdell Jones III and freshman forward Christian Watford had particularly miserable games. Jones shot 2-for-8 from the field and needed six free throw attempts to get to 10 points, extending his streak of consecutive double-digit scoring performances to 10. Watford, meanwhile, scored a season-low three points on 1-for-12 shooting.

“They did a great job,” Watford said. “I give them all the credit in the world. They did a great job of defending the paint. But I missed some shots I normally make. That’s just a tough shooting night.”

Senior guard Devan Dumes took on the scoring load with 20 points, but needed 17 shots to do it. Junior guard Jeremiah Rivers added 10 points, breaking double digits for the first time since Dec. 22.

AUDIO: Ralph Sampson III and Lawrence Westbrook talk about Minnesota’s improving cohesion

AUDIO: Tubby Smith says a few things before we had to run to talk to Tom Crean

AUDIO: Tom Crean says he liked the energy and some of the ball movement. The defense? Not so much.

AUDIO: Christian Watford and Devan Dumes say not enough shots were contested


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