Minnesota bests Indiana by 1 point

Published 9:25 am Thursday, February 16, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — Watching his first 10 shots ricochet off the rim didn’t deter Akeem Springs, and letting Indiana take the lead down the stretch didn’t rattle Minnesota.

The Gophers have sure grown up this month.

Springs followed his own missed 3-pointer with a flip from the baseline with 3 seconds left that lifted Minnesota to a 75-74 victory over Indiana on Wednesday night to hand the Hoosiers their fourth straight loss and give the Gophers their fourth consecutive win.

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After driving through the defense to the top of the key, James Blackmon Jr. pulled up for a 3-point try at the buzzer that banged off the backboard.

“It just felt good to contribute after such a tough game,” said Springs, who finished just 2 for 13 from the field.

The senior transfer from Milwaukee launched a contested off-balance try from the corner after the play called by coach Richard Pitino fell apart. Jordan Murphy, who had his third straight double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds, was supposed to set a screen so the ball could be handed off so that Amir Coffey, who had all 17 of his points in the second half, could create a shot.

“My confidence doesn’t sway, at all,” Springs said.

The same can be said these days for the Gophers (19-7, 7-6 Big Ten), who lost five straight games in January, four of them by seven points or less. Nate Mason led the way again with 30 points, hitting 11 of 12 free throws and converting a layup with 39 seconds left for a one-point lead.

“It’s great, man, just knowing our team is as tough as we are,” Mason said.

Blackmon finished with 22 points for the Hoosiers (15-12, 5-9), after two quiet games following an absence caused by a lower left leg injury.

“We just need to come together even more like we have been, get better like we have been,” Blackmon said, trying to stay optimistic after the sixth loss in the last seven games by the Hoosiers.

Better showing

Indiana failed again to cut down on turnovers and get going from behind the arc, but Blackmon helped the Hoosiers stay poised. A three-point play by Juwan Morgan gave them a 51-49 lead they didn’t lose until two free throws by Murphy put Minnesota in front with 1:06 left. Blackmon’s 3-pointer with 4:30 remaining gave Indiana a 65-60 lead.