Gophers continue to spiral in the Big Ten

Saturday’s loss to Indiana makes the team 0-6 this year in conference play.

Minnesota forward Joey King pushes through Indiana’s defense at Williams Arena on Saturday where the Gophers lost to the Hoosiers 70-63.

Liam James Doyle

Minnesota forward Joey King pushes through Indiana’s defense at Williams Arena on Saturday where the Gophers lost to the Hoosiers 70-63.

Ryan Falk

The Gophers futile start to Big Ten play continued on Saturday, as the team extended its losing streak to seven.
 
 
Minnesota lost 70-63 to Indiana at home, giving the Gophers a 0-6 start to Big Ten play after going 0-5 to open conference play last year.
 
 
The Gophers (6-12, 0-6 Big Ten) were able to keep close with the perennial Big Ten powerhouse, but mistakes caught up with them at the end of the game.
 
 
“I think if we defend like that and play as hard as we did today, we’ll win some,” head coach Richard Pitino said. “Right now, it’s tough. We have to be as close to perfect to beat a team like that, and we just were not.” 
 
 
The Gophers defense was able to hold the Big Ten’s top scoring offense to under 43 percent shooting. But missed free throws and turnovers hurt the team.
 
 
Senior forward Joey King uncharacteristically missed three free throws, including a couple when the score was close at the end of the game.
 
 
“Most frustrating thing for me is, [with an] 11:30 tip you don’t get the shots up in the morning that you like to get, and that really bothered me because I knew that was exactly why I missed free throws today,” King said. 
 
 
The Gophers started the game off strong with drives to the basket by freshman forward Jordan Murphy and freshman guard Ahmad Gilbert, which led to an 8-2 lead four minutes into the game. 
 
 
The Gophers defense held Indiana in check for most of the first half, but the Hoosiers fought back with four three-pointers from redshirt senior guard Nick Zeisloft to cut Minnesota’s lead to 21-20.
 
 
The Hoosiers turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, but the Gophers weren’t able to capitalize, only scoring six points off of turnovers before the break.  
 
 
King hit three three-pointers in the first half to help stem the Hoosiers’ run, and the two teams were tied at halftime 34-34.
 
 
Things went poorly for the Gophers at the start of the second half. Indiana senior guard Kevin Yogi Ferrell opened the half with a three, and Gilbert suffered a dislocated finger on the play and did not return. 
 
 
“[Gilbert] is a really intense guy,” Murphy said. “His emotion really does help us in that first lineup, in the front line. I mean not having him in the game, it did hurt, but it’s up to each and every one of us to pick each other up.” 
 
 
Zeisloft continued his three-point barrage, with his first of the half putting Indiana up 46-44 seven minutes into the half. The Hoosiers never trailed afterwards.
 
 
The Gophers shooting went cold, and Indiana began to pull away as the Hoosiers got more close looks at the rim. With a minute left the Gophers pulled within four, but their inexperience showed once again.
 
 
The Gophers turned the ball over and gave Ferrell a wide-open lane to the basket, which put the Hoosiers up six and kept the Gophers losing streak alive.
 
 
“I’m going to look back at this game and obviously [be] very disappointed. We’re not a big moral victory team by any means,” Pitino said. “You got to beat good teams by free throw shooting, not turning the ball over, getting a loose ball. All those things are so important.”