Gophers, defense, 3-point shooting fuel blowout of Indiana
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Gophers found its lost 3-point shooting and discovered stifling defensive play to snap a four-game losing streak with a 84-63 win over Indiana on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Williams Arena.
For Minnesota, the complete smackdown of the languishing Hoosiers was refreshing after the U felt snakebitten by the officials in the 62-61 loss to previously hurting Nebraska on Wednesday.
Minnesota has been the worst 3-point shooting team the Big Ten this season, and one of the league’s worst defensive teams through two-thirds of the conference schedule.
On Saturday, the Gophers (17-9, 7-8 Big Ten) made a season high 12 from behind the arc and held Indiana, losers of 10 of their last 11 games, to 37 percent shooting from the field.
Jordan Murphy, the Gophers’ biggest constant, was on full display with 23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Gophers coach Richard Pitino told ESPN he wanted his team to play angry after the loss to the Cornhuskers. Murphy exemplified that.
Gabe Kalscheur scored 20, including 6 for 8 from deep, with Amir Coffey adding 18, with three behind the arc.
The Hoosiers’ (13-12, 4-10) best player, Romeo Langford was limited to 10 points on six shots, with Coffey as his primary defender. Langford, a potential NBA lottery pick, was held well below his average of 12.8 shots per game.
Murphy was a force in the first half, with 17 points, four rebounds and two assists. He averages 7.2 free throws attempt a game and made seven for 11 from the stripe in the first half and was 9 for 13 in the game.
Minnesota banked on some luck from deep in the first half. Center Daniel Oturu made his first career 3 as the shot clock was expiring and then Coffey and Kalscheur had other attempts go in off the glass. This outburst helped Minnesota stake a 21-11 lead with 12 minutes left.
The Gophers then went seven minutes without a field goal, which helped allow Indiana to narrow the gap to 30-25 with less than five minutes left. Minnesota soon responded to lead 42-30 at the half.
U backup point guard Isaiah Washington didn’t dress for Saturday’s game, but was on the bench. He played only two minutes against the Cornhuskers before Pitino pulled him from the game.
The Gophers welcomed back center Eric Curry, who was out for two games with a calf injury. He had two points, three rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes.