It took three games, but coach Tubby Smith's team is finally in the win column.
No. 21 Minnesota picked up its first conference victory Tuesday night, defeating Indiana 67-63 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.The Golden Gophers improve to 1-2 in league play and 12-3 overall.
Blake Hoffarber led Minnesota with 16 points and Trevor Mbakwe posted a big double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. He also had five blocked shots
Al Nolen and Rodney Williams chipped in 14 and 12 points respectively.
The Gophers trailed by as many as nine points in the first half thanks to cold shooting, but picked up the pace in the second half, eventually grabbing an eight point lead before holding on for the victory.
For Indiana, it was a difficult night for leading scorer Christian Watford, who finished the evening with only four points on 2-13 shooting in 21 minutes. Fellow starters Jeremiah Rivers and Derek Elston went scoreless from the field. In their absence, the Hoosiers got big nights off the bench from Victor Oladipo and Maurice Creek. who added 13 and 12 points respectively. Starter Verdell Jones III also had 13 points.
The loss drops Indiana to 0-3 in the conference and 9-7 overall. The Hoosiers have now lost five games in a row after starting the season 9-2.
It was a dominating night inside for Minnesota. The Gophers out rebounded the Hoosiers 39-26 and grabbed 15 offensive boards to go with 10 blocked shots. They also recorvered from a cool shooting first half to finish the evening with a respectable 41% effort from the field. The Gophers now face a tough two game stretch against No. 2 Ohio State and No. 10 Purdue.
Indiana will get its next chance to pick up its first Big Ten win on Sunday when the Hoosiers travel to Northwestern.
Without the suspended Devoe Joseph, it was an important win for a Minnesota team that couldn't afford to drop to 0-3 in the conference. Now, the Golden Gophers have at least partially dug themselves out their early hole, but have work to do with the tough games that await in the next week.