Gophers steal thriller at Indiana

by Todd Zolecki

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — This one was special. From the large smile flashed by Gophers men’s basketball player Quincy Lewis to the exhausted tone in coach Clem Haskins’ voice, it was obvious.
This one won’t be forgotten. Minnesota’s 96-91 overtime victory over No. 15 Indiana in Assembly Hall — after being down by seven points with 58 seconds left in regulation — made sure of that.
The No. 11 Gophers showed how mentally tough they actually are Wednesday night, and proved to themselves and the Big Ten they are a team which won’t give up and shouldn’t be counted out.
From Bobby Jackson to Sam Jacobson to Courtney James, just about everybody seemed to chip in during the games closing minute and overtime to boost Minnesota to 3-0 in the conference. The Gophers are undefeated after three Big Ten games for the first time in Haskins’ tenure, and they have established themselves as the team to beat the rest of the regular season.
“It feels really good,” Gophers center John Thomas said. “This shows we have a lot of character.”
Minnesota overcame a deficit of eight points in the second half to bring the game to overtime.
“This is one of the biggest wins for Coach,” Lewis said about Haskins. “He’s had Bobby Knight’s number, and we just wanted to keep the streak going.”
Haskins, in true form, threw off his jacket, fell to his knees and put his head in his hands after every frustrating and emotional play of the game.
The tension obviously wore Haskins down, but the players said they had a different outlook. Faced with its first Big Ten loss of the season, Minnesota never lost confidence it could come back and win.
“We practice like this all the time,” Lewis said. “We have late-game situations like this. It’s funny how this same thing happens in practice.”
With just under a minute to go and Minnesota down by seven, Gophers point guard Eric Harris pulled up and hit a 3-pointer from 20 feet to bring his team to within four.
On the following play, shooting guard Bobby Jackson, who finished with 26 points, fouled Indiana guard Neil Reed. As Indiana had all game, Reed sank both of his free throws. The Hoosiers made 40 trips to the free throw line and missed only five times. Indiana up by six.
Minnesota’s next trip down the court found Jacobson, who had only six points at the time, with the ball. Jacobson made another three to put the Gophers within three.
On the inbounds pass, Indiana guard A.J. Guyton had the ball stripped away by James who got the ball to Jackson.
Just like Jacobson, Jackson had seconds before he found the basket from beyond 20-feet and tied the game with 33.8 seconds left.
Indiana tried to push the ball down the court. The Hoosiers got the ball to Andrae Patterson under the hoop and he put the ball up but was blocked by Lewis.
Harris got the ball and tried to get a shot off. He gave it to Lewis who missed a last second attempt which sent the game to overtime at, 81-81.
“We got up by eight points and we played like we had the game won,” Knight said, who added his team showed up for 39 minutes, but not the final minute of regulation.
What nobody knew at the moment was Jacobson’s 3-pointer in the final minute was a small preview of an offensive explosion in the first two minutes of overtime.
Before the screaming Hoosiers fans could even bat an eye, Jacobson knocked down three field goals to put the Gophers up 87-81 with 2:38 left in overtime.
“Sam made some big shots,” Lewis said. “He really got us rolling. John got some big rebounds at the other end.”
Jacobson enjoyed his clutch performance.
“At the beginning things weren’t going well for me,” he said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I was kind of down because I want to help this team win. I went out and helped the team as much as I could.
“This is a special ballclub. We’ve got players in the right positions that can contribute. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a great team to be on, and we have a lot of pride.”
Now the Gophers head back to Williams Arena where they host No. 16 Michigan on Saturday.
“This team just refused to lose,” Haskins said. “We are winning because we are playing as a team. The team played outstanding ball.”

##11 Gophers 34 47 15 — 96
##15 Indiana 33 48 10 — 91

Gophers — James 2-6 4-6 8, Jacobsen 6-11 2-2 15, J. Thomas 2-3 0-0 4, Jackson 11-20 2-3 26, Harris 6-12 3-3 16, Lewis 7-18 2-4 20, Winter 3-5 0-0 6, C. Thomas 0-3 1-2 1, Tarver 0-1 0-0 0, Archambault 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 37-80 14-20 96.
Indiana — Patterson 5-16 7-8 17, Mujezinovic 0-1 2-2 2, Collier 3-8 2-4 8, Reed 4-8 9-10 19, Lewis 2-3 8-8 14, Miller 3-3 2-2 10, Guyton 4-10 2-2 12, Mandeville 0-0 0-0 0, Eggers 2-2 0-0 6, Jiminez 0-1 0-0 0, Richardson 0-1 3-4 3. Totals 23-53 35-40 91.
Three-point goals — Minnesota 8-14 (Jacobsen 1-1, Jackson 2-4, Harris 1-2, Lewis 4-5, C. Thomas 0-1, Archambault 0-1), Indiana 10-17 (Patterson 0-2, Collier 0-1, Reed 2-3, Lewis 2-2, Miller 2-2, Guyton 2-3, Eggers 2-2, Jiminez 0-1, Richardson 0-1). Fouled out — Jacobsen. Rebounds —Minnesota 47 (James 10), Indiana 32 (Patterson 9). Assists — Minnesota 17 (James, Harris 5), Indiana 17 (Lewis 5). Total fouls — Minnesota 30, Indiana 19. A — 16,231.