BLOOMINGTON – Indiana turned sure victory into cliffhanger before holding off Minnesota 88-81 Saturday afternoon.
The No. 5 Hoosiers spent the first 20 minutes building a 23-point lead. Eighth-ranked Minnesota knocked 20 points off that gap before running out of time at Assembly Hall.
Victor Oladipo led the Hoosiers (15-1 overall, 3-0 in the Big Ten) with 20 points, six rebounds and three steals. Cody Zeller had 18 points and six rebounds. Christian Watford had 13 points and eight rebounds. Yogi Ferrell had 13 points and eight assists against two turnovers.
Foul trouble slowed Jordan Hulls, but he still finished with 19 points, including the decisive free throws.
Minnesota (15-2, 3-1) had its 11-game winning streak snapped. It was led by Andre Hollins' 25 points.
IU's can't-do-anything-wrong first half morphed into its second straight stumble-and-bumble second-half start.
No matter. The Hoosiers improved to 11-0 at home this season. They've won 29 of their last 30 Assembly Hall games over the past two seasons.
In a 10-minute first-half span, IU turned the nation's No. 8 team into Bryant. It hit three-pointers all over the court (six in a seven-minute burst). It defended the Gophers into offensive irrelevance. Oladipo refused to miss. Hulls did so reluctantly.
Case in point:
Hulls hit a three-pointer; Oladipo had a steal and layup; Hulls hit another three-pointer. That was part of an 18-2 run that pushed the Hoosiers ahead 37-17. They led 52-29 at halftime.
The game seemed to be over.
Minnesota controlled the opening of the second half. It started on a 14-4 run aided by four IU turnovers. That set a tone.
Oladipo's foul on a missed Austin Hollins' three-pointer helped Minnesota close to within eight points in the final two minutes. An Andre Hollins' three-pointer made it a seven-point game with 50.5 seconds left. Minnesota got within four with 32.2 seconds left, within three with 18 seconds left.
Hulls missed three crunch time free throws, but Zeller hustled for the rebound on the last miss and got the ball back to Hulls. He was fouled and hit both free throws to clinch the victory.