No. 1 goes down again
MINNEAPOLIS — Trevor Mbakwe had 21 points and 12 rebounds to help Minnesota take down No. 1 Indiana 77-73 on Tuesday night, the seventh time the top-ranked team in The Associated Press' poll has lost a game this season.
Andre Hollins added 16 points for the Gophers (19-9, 7-8 Big Ten), who outrebounded Cody Zeller and the Hoosiers by a whopping 44-30 and solidified their slipping NCAA tournament case with an emphatic performance against the Big Ten leaders. The fans rushed the court as the last seconds ticked off, the first time that's happened here in years.
Zeller was held to nine points with four turnovers for the Hoosiers (24-4, 12-3), who have held the No. 1 ranking for 10 of 17 polls this season including the last four. Victor Oladipo scored 16 points, but 14 of the 17 points by Jordan Hulls came before halftime.
Mbakwe, a sixth-year senior, posted his conference-leading seventh double-double. At 24 years old, he was a man among boys in many ways in this game, dominating both ends of the court when the Gophers needed him most. Minnesota had 23 offensive rebounds.
Elliott Eliason, who played every bit as well as Zeller, the slender sophomore in the post for the visitors, scored seven straight points for Minnesota to tie the game at 46 shortly after Oladipo's reverse layup had given the Hoosiers a 44-36 lead, their biggest of the game.
Hollins, who missed eight of his first nine shots, scraped off a high screen by Eliason to pull up for a 3-pointer and give the Gophers a 51-48 lead underneath the 9-minute mark. Mbakwe got a rebound to keep a key possession alive then grabbed another board to set up his off-balance bank shot for a 56-53 lead for Minnesota with 7:22 left.
Mbakwe was called for a loudly questioned blocking foul, his fourth, with 4:39 remaining on Zeller's fast-break layup that put the Hoosiers up 59-58. But Austin Hollins answered with a pump-fake layup that drew a foul for a three-point play and a 61-59 lead for the Gophers.
Joe Coleman's fast-break dunk with 2:35 left lifted Minnesota to a 68-61 edge, enough of a cushion to withstand a couple of 3-pointers by Christian Watford and one by Hulls in the closing minutes.