Twenty wins not quite 20/20 after 71-56 loss at Indiana

Minnesota drops to 6-5 in the big ten

Bob Wothe

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – On its first possession of the second half Saturday, Minnesota’s men’s basketball team had a chance to draw even with – or take the lead from – Indiana.

Rico Tucker had an open look from the three-point range on the left wing, only to watch it clang off the rim.

But J’son Stamper was there to clean up the offensive glass and had an easy layup from the left side of the rim.

He missed it.

That one possession summed up the entire afternoon for the Gophers, who missed 12 layups and shot a season-low 32.1 percent from the field on their way to a 71-56 loss at Assembly Hall.

“I think it’s pretty clear that we’re a very frustrated offensive basketball team right now,” Gophers coach Dan Monson said. “We’ve got to be more efficient with our ball movement and shots.”

Minnesota (16-8, 6-5 Big Ten) lost despite pulling down 19 offensive rebounds and getting 21 and 20 points from Vincent Grier and Jeff Hagen, respectively.

It was mostly because the team ended the first half with no assists and had just five for the entire game, exemplifying the team’s utter lack of offensive capability.

But respectable first-half defense held the Hoosiers to a manageable 43.5 percent from the field and kept the Gophers within two at the half at 29-27.

And then Indiana (11-10, 6-4) took fourth place in the Big Ten from Minnesota by opening the second half on a 10-0 run.

Indiana never led by less than nine points after taking a 39-27 lead on A.J. Ratliff’s three-pointer as the shot clock ran out with 15:41 left to play.

“We didn’t start out the way we wanted to in the second half,” said Hagen, who wore a boot on his right foot after the game to protect a sore ankle. “We didn’t play well enough. The effort was there, but we dug ourselves too deep of a hole.”

The Hoosiers shot a blistering 57.1 percent in the second half, including 4-of-5 from behind the three-point line.

It all added up to a game that the Gophers never led and in their first back-to-back losses of the Big Ten season.

“Our frustration offensively broke into our defense today,” Monson said. “I don’t think we had anybody in our eight guys who played well.

“Hagen battled on that bad ankle, but the only guys who shot 50 percent were our two centers – and they shot 5-of-10 between them, all lay-ins.”

All in all, discounting the blowout they endured two weekends ago against No. 1 Illinois, it was Minnesota’s most-complete and downright ugly loss of the season.

“We put a lot of pressure on our defense, and they came out and hit shots,” said senior guard Aaron Robinson, whose three points equaled his three turnovers. “We’ve got to get back to the way we were playing and have fun.”