Hoosiers hold off Gophers
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Suddenly, beating ranked opponents is becoming a regular thing for Indiana.
Six days after snapping a 19-game losing streak against Top 25 foes, the Hoosiers did it again Wednesday night -- and this time the fans didn't even storm the court.
Juniors Tom Pritchard and Verdell Jones each scored 12 points, and the Hoosiers led from start to finish, holding off two second-half comebacks by No. 18 Minnesota for a 60-57 victory.
"Last week's win definitely boosted our confidence. I think we got five straight stops at the end of that game and we got a couple of more like that tonight," Pritchard said. "I think we've grown into being a good team."
The Hoosiers (12-11, 3-7 Big Ten) still have plenty to prove, but they are making strides.
On Wednesday, three of Indiana's projected opening-day starters -- Maurice Creek (fractured knee), Guy-Marc Michel (ineligible) and Christian Watford (broken hand) -- were dressed in street clothes. A fourth, Jones, come off the bench with inflammation in his right knee. It was Jones' first game action since Jan. 20.
And yet after watching Minnesota (16-6, 5-5) cut a 16-point lead to one with 3:05 to go, the Hoosiers buckled down and played the way coach Tom Crean expects.
Minnesota (16-6, 5-5) can already see the difference.
When these teams last met, Jan. 4 in Minneapolis, it was the Gophers who held on for a 67-63 win.
This time, the Hoosiers never let Minnesota take the lead or even tie the score.
Austin Hollins missed the first chance to tie it when he clanked a free throw with 3:05 to go. Then, in the closing seconds, Blake Hoffarber, Minnesota's best 3-point shooter, had a chance to force overtime with a 3 from the left wing. It hit the front of the rim, Indiana freshman Victor Oladipo grabbed the rebound and cradled the ball in his arms as time ran out.
"You've got to set the tone and we didn't do that," coach Tubby Smith said. "We weren't doing any of the little things. They were outworking us and outhustling us, simple as that."