Shooting, mistakes are Gophers' problems in loss to Hoosiers

BY foxsports • February 3, 2011

By Chris Monter
FOXSportsNorth.com

Feb. 3, 2011

The Minnesota Golden Gophers, ranked No. 18 by the Associated Press, dropped their fifth conference road contest as they fell to 60-57 to Indiana in Bloomington Wednesday. It was their second straight loss for a team that has struggled since the loss of senior point guard Al Nolen, who is sidelined with a broken foot.

Indiana improved to 12-11 overall and 3-7 in Big Ten play, while Minnesota slipped to 16-6 and 5-4 in conference action. The Gophers might need to upset No. 1 Ohio State Sunday to remain in the Top 25.

Matt Roth hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Indiana up 24-10 as Minnesota struggled with their shooting and rebounding as the Hoosiers seemed to get every loose ball against the Big Ten's top boarding team.

The Golden Gophers trailed 33-21 at halftime and was down by as many as 14 points before freshman Austin Hollins made consecutive 3-pointers to cut the lead to 39-34.

Indiana went on an 11-0 run to expand the margin to 50-34 and nothing looked like it was going Minnesota's way as normally dead-eyed shooter Blake Hoffarber missed both free throws after a technical foul was called on Victor Oladipo for grabbing the rim on a crowd-pleasing dunk.

Indiana went up 55-44 with 5:29 to go, with two Jordan Hulls' free throws. Minnesota grabbed six consecutive rebounds as they scored ten-straight points to cut the lead to one as Austin Hollins made the first of two shots from the charity stripe. However, Trevor Mbakwe missed a follow-up on the missed second free throw, which could have given Minnesota their first lead of the game.

Verdell Jones III made two free throws and a 3-pointer from the corner as the shot clock expired to put Indiana up 60-54.

Minnesota cut the lead to 60-57 and had a last chance to tie the game, but Maverick Ahanmisi threw a bad pass back to inbound passer Hoffarber, whose 3-point atempts came up short at the buzzer.

The Minnesota starters were just 14 of 40 (35 percent) and the frontcourt was only eight of 22 (36.4 percent). Their free throw woes continued as they made only 11 of 22 (50 percent) from the charity stripe.

Hoffarber had 15 points to lead Minnesota. However, he was just four of 12 from the field. Hollins had his best game of his brief career with 13 points, five rebounds and three steals. Ralph Sampson III added 10 points and nine rebounds.

Tom Pritchard and Jones scored 12 points each to lead the Hoosiers. Jones, who picked Indiana over Minnesota out of high school, had missed the previous three games. Indiana was without their leading scorer Christian Watford, who suffered a broken left hand. Watford is averaging 17.0 points per game.

Notes

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Minnesota faces No. 1 Ohio State Sunday at 1:00 pm. The Golden Gophers rallied from an 18-point deficit, but came up just short as they fell to then-No. 2 Ohio State 67-64 in Columbus. 

The Buckeyes lost 2010 Wooden Award winner Evan Turner, but are even better this season as they are the lone undefeated team in the country. 

Ohio State is led by 6-foot-9 freshman Jared Sullinger, who is averaging a team-best 18.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He is second in the Big Ten in rebounding and is third in field goal percentage (57.7 percent).

The Buckeyes have a good mix of experience and youth. Junior William Buford is averaging 13.5 points, while seniors David Lighty and Jon Diebler are contributing 12.4 and 11.3 points respectively.  Lighty has won more games than any Buckeye Deshaun Thomas, a 6-foot-7 freshman, averages 9.2 points per game off the bench. Senior center Dallas Lauderdale is third in the Big Ten with 1.8 blocked shots per game. Freshman Aaron Craft is adding 6.8 points and a team-best 4.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game (second in the conference).

The Buckeyes played six freshmen in their ten-man rotation and they signed the eighth best recruiting class in the country this fall. That means that Ohio State head coach That Matta has a chance to build on his impressive 178-54 record in his seven years in Columbus.

It is easy to see why Ohio State is the top team in the conference. The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in scoring (78.4 points per game), field goal percentage (50 percent), three-point shooting (40.7 percent) and steals (7.5).

Minnesota paces the Big Ten in rebounding (39.2 caroms per game) and blocked shots (6.0). 

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Minnesota signee Andre Hollins, a 6-foot-2 guard from Memphis (Tenn.) White Station, saw his Spartans team get their nine game winning streak snapped as they lost to Whitehaven 66-63 on the

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Minnesota signee Andre Hollins, a 6-foot-2 guard from Memphis (Tenn.) White Station, scored 18 points, but the Spartans fell to Melrose 63-59 Monday. It was their second straight loss. Melrose defeated White Station in the state championship game last year. However, the Spartans have knocked off their crosstown rival twice this season. Hollins is averaging a team-high 25.7 points per game as the Spartans are off to a 19-5 start. They face Hamilton on the road Friday. White Station defeated Hamilton 70-49 earlier in the season.

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The other Gopher signee Joe Coleman, a 6-foot-4 guard from Minnetonka (Minn.) Hopkins, scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half, but it wasn't enough as the Royals lost for the first time this season, falling to Eden Prairie 75-71. The Eagles led 69-53, but the Royals went on a 14-0 run to cut the lead to two points. However, they could not get any closer. They slipped to 15-1 with the loss. Coleman is scoring 23.5 points per contest. The Royals face Wayzata Friday. Coleman averaged 24.7 points per game as a junior and helped lead Hopkins to back-to-back Class AAAA titles. Hopkins was ranked No. 13 in the most recent USA Today poll.


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