2:30 PM ET, March 11, 2005
United Center, Chicago, Illinois
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 games." 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 year. "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 said. 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 shooting. 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 Gophers. "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 baskets. Indiana got it back to six at the half, thanks to a reverse slam by White.
|FG Made-Attempted||23-51 (.451)||19-57 (.333)|
|3P Made-Attempted||6-12 (.500)||6-15 (.400)|
|FT Made-Attempted||19-28 (.679)||11-20 (.550)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (0/0)||20 (0/0)|