BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The NCAA instituted the three-point line in 1986. In recent years, the Hoosiers’ performance from long-distance has been a sore spot for IU fans. That changed on Wednesday.
In a game that some dubbed as a “must-win” for the Hoosiers’ NCAA Tournament selection, IU (12-9, 7-7 B1G) made 7-of-12 attempts (58%) from deep in an 82-72 victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-9, 6-9 B1G). The Gophers fell to 0-8 on the road.
Archie Miller started the same five of Rob Phinisee, Al Durham, Armaan Franklin, Race Thompson, and Trayce Jackson-Davis, after telling the media he would not change up the starting five for tonight’s game. In their last three games, the Hoosiers fell behind by double digits early. The Hoosiers got out of the gates better on Wednesday.
IU held a slim 9-7 lead at the first media timeout. IU’s first basket of the game was a show-stopping alley-oop from Phinisee to Jackson-Davis, which you will likely see on SportsCenter‘s “Top 10” segment.
On the Minnesota side of things, starting guard Gabe Kalscheur was surprisingly ruled out before tip, after suffering a broken hand during practice on Tuesday. Kalscheur averaged over 30 minutes per game, and was third in the league at 86% from the free throw line. Center Liam Robbins, one of the best big men in the league, came into the game questionable, but after testing his ankle in warmups, started for the Gophers.
In the first half, turnovers plagued the Hoosiers. They committed eight, just four days after giving it away 15 times at Ohio State. On the other hand, the Hoosiers could only force three from the Gophers. Minnesota came in with the second-lowest turnover rate in conference play, per KenPom.
Miller heavily leaned on his veterans in this contest. Each one of the starters logged at least 15 out of 20 possible first-half minutes, and the reserve who saw the most playing time was Jerome Hunter. Speaking of Hunter, he was whistled for a touchy hook-and-hold flagrant foul with 4:42 left before the break. Gopher forward Brandon Johnson missed both of the ensuing free throws. Johnson, arguably the Gophers’ biggest “X-factor”, struggled all game, missing six of his nine field goal attempts, including 0-4 from beyond the arc.
Three-point shooting helped the Hoosiers considerably, especially in the second half. The combination of Durham and Phinisee knocked down all five of their attempts from deep, and Hunter went 2-for-2 himself. IU made 5-of-7 threes in the second half, after a 2-of-5 clip in the first. The Hoosiers elevated their already-impressive 40% clip over the last month even more.
On the other hand, the Gophers shot 4-of-20 from deep. Star guard Marcus Carr shot just 1-of-3 from long range, scoring 19 points but on 16 shots. Indiana threw a number of defenders at Carr, who is likely the second-best guard in the conference after Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu.
For Hoosier fans that have desperately wanted to see a killer instinct from the team, they saw it tonight. After trailing 55-53 with 8:35 to go, Indiana went on an 18-2 run to put some breathing room between them and the Gophers. It wasn’t one particular player who lifted the Hoosiers. Jackson-Davis, Franklin, Phinisee, and Hunter all played a key role in the stretch.
IU converted a high percentage of their free throws in crunch time to seal the win, finishing 23-of-30 from the stripe. The starting guards of Phinisee, Franklin, and Durham deserve a extra tip of the cap, as they went 8-of-8 from the line in the game.
Indiana Box Score
Minnesota Box Score
Next Up: Michigan State
The Hoosiers remain at home to face Michigan State, who are 10-9, but 4-9 in Big Ten play. The game tips off at noon ET on Saturday, on ESPN. The Spartans have dropped six of their last eight, with the most recent defeat coming at Purdue, 75-65. IU has taken three straight from MSU, and KenPom projects the Hoosiers to win by about six points.
Featured Photo: Indiana University Athletics