The Minnesota Golden Gophers fell into a deep hole on Sunday night. But despite a furious rally, a 27-point deficit was too much to overcome in an 84-79 loss to Indiana.
Indiana started the game by taking control early. The Gophers dropped back defensively on Xavier Johnson and the junior guard made them pay with 16 of his 24 points in the first half.
Johnson's play was a catalyst for the Hoosiers, whose lead swelled to 12 points just before the 10-minute mark. But the Gophers cut into the deficit thanks to five 3-pointers.
With a 3-pointer by Payton Willis at the horn, the Gophers went into the locker room down 40-33 at halftime. But Indiana's duo of Trayce Jackson-Davis (14 points, eight rebounds) and Miller Kopp (10 points) helped the Hoosiers open the game up to take a 70-43 lead.
Armed with its biggest lead of the night, this should have been an easy night for Indiana. Instead, the Gophers fought their way back behind Willis.
Willis was one of the eight players honored on senior night and went out with a fury. While tying his own school record with seven 3-pointers, Willis finished with 28 points and led Minnesota on a 36-12 run over the next 8:16.
With Indiana's lead down to 82-79 with five seconds remaining, Johnson knocked down a pair of critical free throws to finally put Minnesota away.
The Gophers fell to 4-14 in the Big Ten and 13-14 overall. Minnesota will look to build momentum entering the conference tournament when they travel to Maryland on Wednesday night.