Minnesota suffers first road loss of the season 73-60 at Indiana

Jan. 9, 2021: After a tough loss on Tuesday against Illinois, the Gophers fell 73-60 at Indiana, dropping consecutive games for the first time this season.

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Full Game Recap:

  • First Half: It was a different story for Payton Willis and the Gophers to start Sunday’s contest. Four early points from the veteran guard gave Minnesota an early 9-7 lead. As Jamison Battle began to heat up, so did Indiana. After exchanging buckets, the Hoosiers tied the ball game at 19 midway through the first half. The Gophers’ offense disappeared to close the half, as the Hoosiers closed on a 17-4 run. Indiana’s star big man Trayce Jackson-Davis was only limited to four first-half points, but Minnesota 2-13 shooting from beyond the arc (13%) was a bit too much to overcome. A 2:21 scoring drought resulted in a 39-29 deficit heading into the locker room.

  • Second Half: The second half could not have started much better for the Gophers. Payton Willis (12) and Jamison Battle (6) combined for all 18 of the team’s first 18 points. After storming all the way back to take a 47-46 lead, they found themselves all the way back into the ball game. Indiana began to feed its big man, and 8 second-half points from Trayce Jackson Davis gave the Hoosiers a five-point lead with about seven minutes to go. Minnesota native Race Thompson added some success on the block, and Indiana regained control of the game. The Gophers were never able to get back into the game, ultimately coming up short 73-60.

Instant Reaction & Takeaways:

Life in the Big Ten conference. It has to give the Gophers confidence that they were able to get back into the basketball game. Payton Willis single-handily pulled the team back and gave them a shot. His leadership is perfect for this team at the point guard position for this team, and it was terrific to see after he struggled on Tuesday against Illinois.

Indiana is a good basketball team, and Assembly Hall is always a very tough play to win a basketball game. Willis and Jamison Battle combined for 23 of the team’s 31 points in the second half, and I think that ultimately caught up to them. E.J. Stephens finished with 12 points on the day, but a serious No. 3 option was never able to step up for this team.

When Indiana went to Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson down the stretch, the Gophers had no answer defensively, but more importantly no answer offensively. The Hoosiers shut down Battle and Willis, and Minnesota had no one to go to. When it became “nut-crunching time” Indiana’s stars showed up and Minnesota’s didn’t. I think that was ultimately the difference in this game.

What is Next?:

After dropping consecutive games for the first time this season, it will not get easier for the Gophers. They will now travel to East Lansing, Mich. for a matchup with Michigan State on Wednesday. I said the same things after Tuesday’s blowout against Illinois, but sometimes you need to step back and have perspective. This team was competitive for 38 minutes against a good Indiana team on the road. The scoreboard might not look like it, but the Gophers had every chance to win that game.

The Big Ten conference season is long, and there are always going to be ups and downs, and it’s about how you respond. The next five-game stretch, the Gophers will have Michigan State (road), Iowa (home), Penn State (road), Rutgers (home) and Ohio State (home). If they get anything less than two wins, it will be concerning, but anything more than two would be a huge statement. This team was never meant to compete this season, but they’re and they will.

This is not a super talented basketball team, they are scrappy and they will fight. I think any fan needs to have realistic expectations for the rest of the season. I think they will be “in” just about every game they play in, but it might not result in wins. This team will have a shot to play in a postseason tournament, but it will not be easy. The Big Ten is as deep as ever, and their margin for error will be razor-thin.

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