BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Tom Pritchard and Verdell Jones each scored 12 points Wednesday night to lead Indiana past No. 18 Minnesota 60-57.
The Hoosiers (12-11, 3-7 Big Ten) have now beaten two ranked teams in six days — the first time they've beaten two Top 25 opponents in a season since February 2008.
It wasn't as easy as it could have been.
Minnesota (16-6, 5-5) tried to rally from a 16-point deficit in the final 10 minutes. It even had a chance to force overtime in the closing seconds, but Blake Hoffarber's 3 from the left wing bounced off the front of the rim.
Indiana freshman Victo Oladipo grabbed the rebound and cradled the ball as time ran out.
Hoffarber led the Gophers with 15 points. Austin Hollins had 13 and Ralph Sampson III had 10 points. Minnesota has now lost five of its last six games at Assembly Hall.
Indiana celebrated by taking the ball down to the student section behind one of the baskets and high-fiving students in the crowd.
But the Hoosiers almost let this one slip away.
The Gophers, playing again without point guard Al Nolen, couldn't get the ball inside and opened the game going 3 of 15 from the field.
Meanwhile, the Hoosiers had no trouble despite having four of their projected opening day start the game on on the bench — Maurcie Creek (knee), Christian Watford (hand), Jones (knee) and Guy Marc-Michel (ineligible). Jones was the only one who played and wore sleeve over his sore right knee.
It didn't matter.
The Hoosiers jumped to a 24-10 lead and still led 33-21 at the half.
That's when Minnesota rallied for the first time, closing the run with back-to-back 3s from Hollins to close the game to 39-34
The Hoosiers answered emphatically. Oladipo made a free throw, Pritchard had a crucial tip-in, Hulls hit a 7-foot basline jumper, Oladipo and Pritchard each knocked down two free throws and Oladipo closed the 11-0 run with a spinning dunk to make it 50-34 with 9:48 to go.
Minnesota rallied one more time.
Trailing 53-38 with 7:35 left, Minnesota finally got in sync.
Sampson started the run with a 10-foot jumper and Hollins drove in for a layup, drew a foul and finished the three-point play, the Gophers were within 55-53 with 3:25 to go. Hollins had a chance to tie the score 24 seconds later after poking the ball away from Derek Elston and drawing a foul. But Hollins missed the second free throw.
Oladipo then hit two free throws for the Hoosiers, and Jones knocked down a 3 to give the Hoosiers a 60-54 lead.
Minnesota made it 60-57 on a 12-footer from Chip Armelin with 41.5 seconds left.
Hulls missed a 3 that would have sealed it, giving Minnesota one more chance. But Hoffarber couldn't hit the tying shot.