Well that was interesting. Indiana followed a dominant 32 minutes with a near-disastrous collapse, but the result is what matters on the NCAA Tournament resume. And that was an 84-79 Big Ten road win for IU at Minnesota.
Indiana toyed with pulling away in the first half but could never extend their lead beyond 12, and they led 40-33 at halftime. IU started the second half red hot and went on a 30-10 run to go up by 27 points with 8:21 left. But Minnesota managed an unbelievable 36 points over the final eight minutes and pulled to within three with five second remaining before Indiana finally closed it out.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers won their fifth straight over Minnesota with another edition of The Report Card.
IU (18-10, 9-9) will next host Rutgers for their final home game of the season. That game tips at 7 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday evening in Bloomington.
IU shredded Minnesota’s zone early, and their man, and pretty much anything the Golden Gophers tried to do.
Indiana shot 55.6 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from the 3-point line. Over the last 2 games, IU has shot 57.4 percent from the field (58 for 101) and 44.1 percent from 3-point range (15 of 34).
In the first half, the Hoosiers were six-of-12 from the 3-point line. That tied a season-best for most 3-pointers made in a half by Indiana. The Hoosiers previously reached that mark in the second half at Syracuse in November and in the first half at home against Penn State in January.
“We’ve struggled in that area this season, but tonight we were really good on the offensive end I thought,” head coach Mike Woodson said after the game.
It is hard to take issue with anything on this end, but Indiana’s offense did help fuel the late Minnesota rally with five turnovers in the last 7:16 of the game. But the Hoosiers only had five turnovers in the first 32:44.
The whole key to making things click on the offensive end right now is better decision-making by Xavier Johnson along with improved 3-point shooting by him and several others.
Indiana had 16 assists for the game, and they made a respectable 14-of-20 from the free throw line.
Indiana’s 1.234 points per possession were their most against any high major opponent all season. Their effective field goal percentage of 64.8 was the second highest of the season, trailing only the Thursday win against Maryland.
Things were going well for Indiana until their lead grew so large they took their foot off the gas. And once they did Indiana seemingly couldn’t regain their effort level, and Minnesota couldn’t miss.
Minnesota was 13-of-37 from the field (35.1 percent) after a miss with 10:52 left in the game, but they made an incredible 13 of their next 17 shots, and connected on eight 3-pointers over the last 9:38 of the second half.
Indiana stopped closing out effectively on shooters, had ball screen coverage breakdowns, and they were beat routinely down the floor.
“I think we got comfortable and they made plays,” was how Woodson simplified that final quarter of the game.
“They were making threes. I thought we were defending the threes. It wasn’t like they were just wide open. They made some tough shots.”
After so much chasing on the perimeter, it looked like IU big men Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis wore down a bit, and no one brought the same energy late.
Indiana did force Jamison Battle into an inefficient 5-of-15 night, and Peyton Willis was just 2-of-8 before the late flurry of points by the Golden Gophers. So in the first 30 minutes plus when IU built its cushion that ultimately held up, the Hoosiers were very good against Minnesota’s two leading scorers.
The Hoosiers were able to control glass with a 35-28 advantage, and they limited Minnesota to just four offensive rebounds.
The 1.16 points per possession allowed by IU were the third most this season, trailing the Syracuse and Michigan games.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score, highlights, keys to the game and specialty stats
- Woodson post-game and transcript
- Indiana nearly blows 27-point lead but leaves Minnesota with win
- Long form highlights:
Trayce Jackson-Davis (B) Jackson-Davis was efficient and didn’t force the issue against doubles. He found his teammates for three assists, and he had two blocks and two steals on the the defensive end. He seemed to lose focus or was fatigued, and had three turnovers in the last 5:07 of the game, and he had his share of ball screen coverage lapses.
Race Thompson (B) He did a good job moving away from the ball and had some nice passes out of the post. Also for the most part did a nice job on a tough defensive assignment against Battle. Thompson wasn’t able to produce on the glass consistent with his recent play.
Xavier Johnson (A) Johnson’s four 3-pointers completely disrupted Minnesota’s defensive plan, which was to pack it in and make the IU point guard beat them. He has been much more composed of late as a decision-maker on the move, as his eight assists to one turnover illustrate.
Miller Kopp (B-) While he didn’t rebound — one in 31 minutes — Kopp was a much better version of the offensive weapon Indiana needs with two 3-pointers and a mid-range shot. He struggled guarding the perimeter at times. Kopp hit 1,000 points for his career during the game.
Parker Stewart (B) This was one of Stewart’s more active games, with five rebounds and two steals. Indiana is getting him more involved in the offense, both running him off screens and putting the ball in his hands. Stewart had three assists on the night and found Thompson under the basket late for what turned out to be a key basket.
Rob Phinisee (B-) Phinisee played in his first game in more than a month, and there was some rust and perhaps not the same level of play on the defensive end we’ve grown accustomed to. But his two 3-pointers were an encouraging sign as he works back into shape.
Tamar Bates (B-) Bates hit some long-range shots and rebounded, but his defense in the second half was lacking at times.
Jordan Geronimo (B+) Geronimo did a nice job running the floor, was disruptive on the offensive glass, and overall brought good, positive energy in a solid 13 minutes. He seemingly could have been used more late when IU needed more athletic perimeter defense.
Michael Durr appeared in the game briefly. Logan Duncomb and Anthony Leal did not play. Trey Galloway and Khristian Lander were out with injuries.
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