Hollins leads Gophers men's basketball to upset over No. 7 Indiana
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Shock the college basketball world. That's what the Gophers did with Thursday's 77-74 upset win over No. 7 Indiana.
It just wasn't supposed to happen, right?
Not when Minnesota had 10 straight Big Ten losses and was 0-4 in the conference this season coming into Assembly Hall, arguably the toughest place to win in the country this season.
Kentucky when it was No. 1 couldn't do it. Ohio State when it was No. 2 couldn't do it.
But there Tubby Smith's team was with a 37-34 halftime lead.
That was the confidence boost his players needed.
The Gophers (13-5, 1-4 Big Ten) let an 11-point second-half lead dwindle to 75-74 when Cody Zeller scored on a three-point play with 17 seconds left. But sophomore Austin Hollins, who finished with a team-high 18 points, hit two free throws to seal Minnesota's first road victory against a ranked team under Smith.
"Hopefully, we can build on this in order to continue to improve," said Smith, who wouldn't say if this was the best win during his Minnesota tenure.
"We still have four losses. I don't know. We'll know at the end of the season."
The Gophers hadn't won a road game against a ranked opponent since beating Michigan during the 1996-97 Final Four season. They hadn't beaten a ranked opponent on the road when unranked since a 1985 win at Michigan State (non-vacated games).
The surprising part was how they took control early.
After giving up 10 three-pointers in the first half in a 13-point home loss Sunday to Purdue, Minnesota limited Indiana (15-2, 3-2) to 1-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc in the first half, while also hitting six three-pointers.
Off the bench, Maverick Ahanmisi and Chip Armelin combined for 13 points. Hollins, who replaced Ahanmisi in the starting lineup, had eight points and two three-pointers in the first half.
As poorly as the Gophers had played in back-to-back home losses to Iowa and Purdue, they actually had a chance to pull off upsets in losses at Illinois in double overtime and at Michigan.
Even Smith couldn't quite understand why, but he did say before Thursday's game that his young team probably would come together and be a lot more focused away from home.
He was right.
After getting off to a fast start, Minnesota led 29-20 with 7:28 left in the first half after consecutive three-pointers by Ahanmisi and Armelin. Even after squandering the lead when Indiana went on a 10-0 run, the Gophers responded by making jump shots and playing tough defense early on Zeller, who finished with 23 points.
For once, they were playing with confidence. And it continued into the second half.
Last season, Hollins' best performance came with 13 points in the second half of a 60-57 loss at Indiana. He played with the same type of aggressiveness Thursday, scoring eight straight points help the Gophers take a 51-40 lead after a layup by Rodney Williams with 12:31 remaining.
The 6-foot-4 guard from Germantown, Tenn., was replaced as a starter by Coleman in the Purdue game because he was shooting just 4 for 15 in the previous two losses. Hollins hadn't scored in double figures in five straight games before Thursday, but he broke out of his slump by attacking the basket.
Julian Welch, who started at point guard for the first time this season in place of Ahanmisi, also bounced back from a disappointing four-point effort against Purdue.
Foul trouble limited him to two points in the first half Thursday, but Welch had eight points in the second half, including a basket to make it 62-53 with 5:44 left.
Welch finished with 10 points. Rodney Williams contributed 12 points for the Gophers, who play at Penn State on Sunday.