February has never been a promising month for Tubby Smith at Minnesota.
But with March quickly approaching, the senior-laden Gophers picked up their biggest win of the season.
Trevor Mbakwe had 21 points and 12 rebounds as the Gophers tallied their first win over a No. 1 team since 1989 in a 77-73 triumph over Indiana.
Minnesota (19-9, 7-8 Big Ten) began the year 15-1, but entered play Tuesday losers in eight of its past 11 and had a 2-4 mark for the month. The Gophers improved to 16-28 in February under Smith, who's in his sixth year with the school.
"Tonight's game was a real character test," Smith said. "This was just a good win for our program and a good win for us. It gives us some confidence, something to feel good about ourselves."
Minnesota relentlessly attacked the glass, holding a 44-30 edge on the boards while snatching 23 of those on the offensive end.
"There is nothing more glaring than the rebounds," IU head coach Tom Crean said. "That was our biggest issue."
Andre Hollins added 16 points in the victory.
Jordan Hulls knocked down five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points to lead the Hoosiers (24-4, 12-3), who had their four-game winning streak snapped. Cody Zeller, who was blocked emphatically by Mbakwe and Rodney Williams on separate occasions, had just nine points and turned the ball over four times.
The Hoosiers still lead the Big Ten by a game over Michigan State.
Victor Oladipo, whose reverse layup capped a 10-2 Hoosiers' run to put them up 44-36 with 15:43 to play, registered 16 points and five boards in defeat.
Minnesota, however, responded that spurt with a 15-4 burst. Maverick Ahanmisi knocked down a triple to start the surge after the Gophers had missed their last 10 shots from beyond the arc.
Elliott Eliason netted the next seven points and Hollins capped the run with a triple to make it 51-48 in favor of the Gophers with 8:54 remaining.
After Zeller's three-point play gave IU a 59-58 edge later on, Minnesota again answered, this time with an 10-2 spurt. Austin Hollins recorded a three-point play, then stripped Will Sheehey and nailed a three on the ensuing trip down the floor. He later assisted Joe Coleman on a 2-on-1 break, and his jam gave the hosts a 68-61 cushion with 2:35 on the clock.
Christian Watford made two 3-pointers in 13 seconds to pull IU within 73-69 with 46 ticks left, but the Gophers hung on and the fans stormed the floor to join the players at midcourt.
Minnesota jumped out to a 16-10 lead, but Indiana netted the next 10 points and took a 34-30 advantage into the break.
The Hoosiers downed then-No. 8 Minnesota, 88-81, in Bloomington on Jan. 12 when IU was ranked fifth ... Mbakwe played Crean while both were at Marquette in 2007-08.