Minnesota’s losing skid at six after Indiana loss

The Hoosiers are now a perfect 14-0 at home this season while the Gophers have won just one road game.

Zach Eisendrath

Like every other team that has traveled to Bloomington, Ind., this season, the Minnesota men’s basketball team found itself on the losing end of things at Assembly Hall.

Despite a valiant effort, the Gophers couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch and fell 71-59 to the Hoosiers on Wednesday night. It was Minnesota’s sixth straight loss, while Indiana is now a perfect 14-0 at home.

For awhile, however, it looked as if the Gophers (9-19 overall, 3-11 Big Ten) had a legitimate chance of handing the Hoosiers (18-8, 8-5) their first home loss.

Junior guard Lawrence McKenzie and junior forward Dan Coleman led Minnesota with 20 points apiece and helped the Gophers shrink a 13-point first-half deficit to two points midway through the second half, 50-48.

But Minnesota wouldn’t get any closer as the Gophers failed to tie or take the lead on four straight possessions and Indiana took advantage – ripping off a quick 10-2 run to extend its lead and close out the game.

First-year Hoosiers coach Kelvin Sampson said the way his team dug in defensively late in the second half turned the game in Indiana’s favor.

“I thought our defense was really good the last seven or eight minutes,” he said. “We rebounded the ball at both ends. Our defense was good.

“Minnesota has some kids that can score. (Dan) Coleman and Lawrence (McKenzie) can score the ball and they have scored the ball all year on just about everybody.”

Minnesota had to overcome plenty of obstacles to even be in the game, though.

The Gophers started 3-of-19 from the field and had to work from behind the entire night, and they were out-rebounded 14-6 on the offensive glass – big reasons why Minnesota never led or even tied the Hoosiers.

Another reason was the Gophers’ inability to stop Indiana junior forward D.J. White. White sparked Indiana from the tip and was consistent throughout the game, scoring a team-high 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting while grabbing six rebounds in 28 minutes of play.

But even in the loss, Minnesota had a few bright spots.

Coleman was 8-of-14 from the field after going just 2-of-8 in Sunday’s 85-67 loss to Ohio State, while freshman guard Lawrence Westbrook – who has played sparingly all season – gave the Gophers a lift early.

Westbrook made his first collegiate start and poured in eight points. With Molinari recently moving McKenzie to point guard, Westbrook might see regular playing time in Minnesota’s final two regular-season games.

And for a team which has been out-shot at the free-throw line 30-16 in its last two games, the Gophers’ aggressive play got them to the line 22 times, two more than the Hoosiers.

According to Sampson, Minnesota’s ability to get to the line was what kept them in the game.

“They only went to the line seven times in the second half,” he said. “We cut off the driving lane better. They went to the free-throw line 15 times in the first half and that was the equalizer.”

Wilson out

Junior point guard Limar Wilson missed practice earlier in the week and did not travel with the team.

Wilson, in his first season with the team after transferring from junior college, was benched by Molinari in Sunday’s 85-67 loss to Ohio State after only 11 minutes of work.