Indiana was starting to settle in again at No. 1 after weeks of shuffling at the top of the national rankings in this wildly unpredictable season of college basketball.
Trevor Mbakwe and Minnesota stepped forward, flexed their muscles and did their best to push the Hoosiers out.
Mbakwe had 21 points and 12 rebounds to help the Gophers take down top-ranked Indiana 77-73 on Tuesday night in Minneapolis, the seventh time the No. 1 team in The Associated Press’ poll has lost a game this season.
“We’re trying to do big things so we have to learn from this mistake, but we have to dust it off real fast,” Hoosiers star Victor Oladipo said.
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 bid with an emphatic performance against the Big Ten leader. The fans swarmed the court as the last second ticked off, the first time that’s happened here in years.
“We weren’t physical enough on the glass. That’s the bottom line,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said.
Zeller was held to 9 points with 4 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. Oladipo scored 16 points, but 14 of the 17 points by Jordan Hulls came before halftime.
The Hoosiers are still in position for their first outright Big Ten regular season championship since 1993, with a 1-game edge in the loss column over Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin. With home games against Iowa and Ohio State, Indiana could still clinch the title before the finale at Michigan on March 10.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.