Loss matches Indiana's worst in Big Ten tourney

CHICAGO (AP) -- Minnesota figures it is in the NCAA Tournament --
at least with an at-large bid -- after routing Indiana in the Big
Ten quarterfinals Friday.

The fifth-seeded Golden Gophers pulled away in the second half
against the fourth-seeded Hoosiers in a game billed as a must-win
matchup between two "bubble" teams.

"One more win. We felt good about what we had already done, but
we knew it couldn't hurt," forward Brent Lawson said after a
convincing 71-55 victory.

But the Gophers would like to keep adding on to erase any doubt.

"I felt before this game we were deserving," coach Dan Monson
said. "I think we have a resume that is very deserving for what
these guys accomplished this season -- going 10-6 in the Big Ten and
winning 20 games."

Bidding for its first NCAA trip in six seasons under Monson, the
Gophers (21-9) have won five straight and now face top-ranked
Illinois in Saturday's semifinals. The Illini beat Northwestern
68-51 Friday in the first quarterfinal at the United Center.

"We are looking forward to our own Big Ten championship this
weekend," Lawson said. "The committee has its job, like coach
tells us, and all we can do is worry about playing to win our

The 16-point loss -- matching Indiana's worst in the conference
tournament -- likely ends the Hoosiers' NCAA chances and could turn
up the heat on coach Mike Davis.

Indiana (15-13) might be headed to the NIT. But Davis said the
Hoosiers -- who played a tough non-conference schedule against the
likes of North Carolina, Connecticut and Kentucky and then won 10
league games -- still deserve consideration from the NCAA.

"We played three teams that won big-time conferences, the ACC,
SEC and Big East. No one else did that," Davis said.

"We finished in fourth place and that's why we were the fourth
seed. That's all I can say. You do the math."

Davis also said the school's administration has been supportive
and he doesn't need any assurances about his job, even though the
Hoosiers will likely miss the NCAA Tournament for a second straight

"I have been in this situation for five years. It would be an
insult to my administration to come down and say, `Hey we support
Mike Davis.' ... I don't need that, they don't need that," he

Davis said speculation about job security has not come from
anyone of importance and he doesn't need a public pat on the back.

"I don't need these guys to come out because Indiana is better
than that," he said.

The Hoosiers' downfall Friday was their shooting in the second
half when they made only eight of 31 shots (26 percent).

Vincent Grier led Minnesota with 16 points, 14 in the second
half. Lawson added 15 points, and Aaron Robinson 14 for the
Gophers, who shot 45 percent.

Freshman D.J. White paced Indiana with 21 points, 10 rebounds
and five blocked shots. Bracey Wright, the Big Ten's leading scorer
in the regular season at 18.5 points, scored 14 on 4-for-13

Trailing by just six at the half, the Hoosiers closed to 42-40
when White got two baskets inside and missed a third shot to tie.

The Gophers then took off on an 18-5 run featuring a three-point
play by Grier and a 3-pointer by Robinson for a 60-45 lead with
8:18 left.

Robinson found the range on another 3-pointer and Grier dropped
in two more free throws to make it 65-47 with 6:41 remaining. The
lead eventually reached 20 in an impressive showing for the

"We don't decide if we got to the NCAA Tournament unless we win
this tournament," Monson said.

"The committee needs to decide if we are worthy, the media
needs to speculate if we are in or not and we need to play and I
need to coach."

A pair of freshmen helped the Gophers go up by 10 in the first
half as Dan Coleman made a 3-pointer and then 6-foot-9, 275-pound
backup center Spencer Tollackson muscled his way in for a pair of

Indiana got it back to six at the half, thanks to a reverse slam
by White.