Feb. 26, 2012
MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota's late-season struggles continued Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena, as #23/24 Indiana pulled away from the Gophers midway through the first half and held a double-digit lead for the entire second half on its way to a 69-50 victory.
The loss was Minnesota's fifth-straight, and sixth in its past seven games, as it fell to 17-12 overall and 5-11 in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers earned a split in the season series with Minnesota, winning for the fifth time in their past six outings to improve to 22-7 overall and 9-7 in the conference.
Sophomore guard Austin Hollins was the lone Minnesota player to reach double-figures, as he scored 11 first-half points on his way to a game-high total of 14. Hollins made 4-of-8 field goals, including 3-of-5 treys, but the rest of the team combined to make just 14-of-50 field goals.
Overall, Minnesota made 18-of-58 (.310) field goals, including 7-of-17 (.412) from long-range. Indiana made 21-of-48 (.438) field goals, including 6-of-12 treys, and connected on 21-of-25 attempts at the free throw line.
Indiana was led by 12 points each from Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo, and Jordan Hulls, while Verdell Jones III added 11 points. Oladipo led all players with eight rebounds, as Indiana held a 41-36 edge on the glass.
But the Hoosiers took advantage of a four-minutes, 57-second scoring drought for the Gophers to go on a 9-0 run and take a three-point lead before junior guard Julian Welch made a three to tie the score at 9-9 with 13:44 left in the half.
Freshman center Elliott Eliason made a 12-foot jumper along the baseline to tie the score at 11-all, but the Hoosiers' Matt Roth pulled up for a lengthy trey. Then, after Eliason scored again for the Gophers, Watford stretched Indiana's lead to 17-13 by making a three from the top of the key.
Both teams shot the ball well from beyond the arc early in the game, as the Gophers made their first three attempts and IU made three of its first four tries.
Indiana expanded its advantage to six points with a pair of free throws, but Austin Hollins knocked down his second three of the afternoon, and the Gophers' fourth in as many attempts, to cut IU's lead to 19-16.
Senior forward Ralph Sampson III scored to pull Minnesota within three points, 21-18, but Indiana responded with a 7-0 run to open a 10-point lead, and went into the break holding a 37-26 advantage.
Minnesota was led at the half by Austin Hollins, who went 3-of-4 from three-point range to lead all scorers with 11 points. As a team, the Gophers made 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, but just 4-of-23 (.174) from inside the line.
The second half didn't start well for the Gophers, who committed turnovers on two of their first three possessions, as Indiana extended its lead to 40-26.
By the first media timeout of the second half (with 15:51 remaining), the Hoosiers had taken advantage of four Minnesota turnovers to outscore the Gophers 7-2 and take a 16-point lead, 44-28.
Minnesota made just one of its first nine field goal attempts, falling behind 46-28, before freshman guard Joe Coleman made a short jumper. Half-way through the second half, IU held a commanding 54-34 lead, as Minnesota had more turnovers (5) than field goals (4-of-15).
Down the stretch, Indiana built its lead to as many as 24 points and was never threatened.
The Gophers have a short turnaround before hitting the road for Tuesday night's cntest at nationally-ranked Wisconsin. Tipoff at the Kohl Center is set for 7:00 p.m. (CT), and the game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.
--By Michael Molde, GopherSports.com
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