INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Lawrence Westbrook scored 11 of his career-high 17 points in the second half Thursday, and Dan Coleman added 16 points as Minnesota rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat Northwestern 55-52 in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
Lawrence McKenzie had 13 points for sixth-seeded Minnesota (19-12), which will play Indiana (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) in Friday's quarterfinals. The Gophers likely need to at least make it to Sunday's championship game to play their way into consideration for an at-large bid and extend coach Tubby Smith's streak of 14 straight appearances in the NCAA tournament.
Craig Moore's 15 points led Northwestern (8-22), but his desperation 3 at the buzzer wasn't even close. Kevin Coble and Michael Thompson added 13 each for the Wildcats, who failed to win a game in the Big Ten tournament for the third straight year.
Minnesota fell behind quickly in the first half and could never make any kind of a run with Northwestern shooting 65 percent from the floor.
That changed in a hurry after halftime.
The Gophers made seven of their first 10 shots, and Westbrook's 3-pointer capped a 21-8 run that tied the game at 42 with 12:29 left. Westbrook, whose previous career-high was 16 earlier this month against Ohio State, scored Minnesota's last nine points in the spurt and single-handedly broke down a Northwestern defense that had stymied the Gophers throughout the first half.
Moore finally halted Minnesota's run with a jumper and a 3, and the Gophers cooled off. They missed their next eight shots and went 7:29 without scoring before McKenzie made a pair of free throws with five minutes left.
Northwestern then showed its youth, committing ball-handling violations on three straight possessions. Thompson, the freshmen point guard, was called for a 10-second violation, and the Wildcats were called for a backcourt violation when Sterling Williams couldn't corral Thompson's pass without going over the line.
Coleman then reached in to snag Thompson's pass, and took it in for a thundering dunk that gave Minnesota a 48-47 lead -- its first since the opening basket of the game.
Moore's 3-pointer put the Wildcats back ahead 52-51 with 2:34 to play. But the Wildcats would not score again. Coble missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1:20 left, and Coleman sealed Minnesota's victory when he wrapped Williams up on the baseline, forcing a turnover with about 4 seconds left.
Coleman was fouled, and he made both free throws.
Minnesota won despite senior center Spencer Tollackson playing only six minutes. Tollackson hurt his ankle in the first half.