Gophers fall at Indiana 72-67, secure 12th place in Big Ten

Daniel Oturu #25 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers drives to the basket while being guarded by Joey Brunk #50 of the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on March 04, 2020 in Bloomington, Indiana. ((Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images))

Whatever microscopic hopes the Gopher men’s basketball team had at an NCAA Tournament berth were wiped away Wednesday night in a 72-67 loss at Indiana.

With the loss, Minnesota’s sixth in its last seven games, the Gophers have locked up a 12th place finish in the Big Ten with Nebraska coming to Minneapolis for the final regular season home game. The Gophers (13-16, 7-12) will play in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament next Wednesday against either Nebraska or Northwestern, and will need to win five games in five days to be involved in March Madness.

Daniel Oturu led the Gophers with 24 points and 16 rebounds, shooting 11-of-27 from the field. Gabe Kalscheur finished with 14 points, but shot just 1-of-6 from the perimeter.

Trayce Jackson-Davis led four Indiana players in double figures with 18 points and nine rebounds, shooting 8-of-12 from the field. Joey Brunk provided the offensive spark for the Hoosiers in the second half, with 10 of his 12 points and eight rebounds.

With Minnesota leading 34-32 at the half, but the Hoosiers opened the second half on an 8-0 run to take a 40-32 lead. The Gophers’ last lead of the game came after a Marcus Carr jumper put them up 53-52 with 9:01 left. With the game tied 54-54, the Hoosiers went on a 9-1 run to take a 63-55 lead with 5:39 to play. Carr, who is second for the Gophers in scoring, finished with just six points on 2-of-8 shooting in 37 minutes.

Kalscheur had a chance to get the Gophers within three with three minutes remaining, but missed two of three at the free-throw line. Indiana answered with six of the next seven points to put the game away. The Gophers came into the game having lost their last two games by a combined three points. They’ve now lost eight Big Ten games by eight points or fewer, and it's yet another game where they've had key offensive and defensive lapses in the final 10 minutes.

The Gophers shot just 8-of-14 at the free-throw line in the loss, including 6-of-11 in the second half. They also committed 11 turnovers, many in crucial situations in the second half. Minnesota couldn’t get defensive stops at key times as Indiana shot 50.8 percent from the field for the game, yet was just 3-of-15 from the perimeter.

The Gophers fell to 2-10 in true road games this season, with the only wins coming at Ohio State and Northwestern.

Minnesota is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament and the NIT for the fourth time in seven seasons under Pitino, who is now 47-82 for his career in the Big Ten. When asked on his radio show earlier this week if he thought he was coaching for his job, Pitino said, “I don’t think it’s reality. “I don't feel like that. I think the narrative has been created in the last couple weeks because we lost a couple home games.”

The Gophers end the regular season Sunday afternoon against Nebraska at Williams Arena, the final home game for seniors Michael Hurt, Brady Rudrud and Alihan Demir.