Bloomington, Ind. - I don't know what to tell you. I was there. In press row at Assembly Hall.

I saw the whole thing. The early collapse. The late collapse. The late comeback. The overtime surge. The overtime collapse.

But I'm still trying to figure out what it all means.

The Gophers can't lose to Indiana on the road. Can't happen. But it did.

They don't have enough quality wins to balance such a bad loss. And if they can't compete with the Hoosiers, what happens when they have to go to Ohio State, Northwestern and Illinois? 

And they certainly can't afford to lose that way. A 43-31 rebounding deficit against the Hoosiers after tying Michigan State's 37 rebounds? Really? 

I think Devoe Joseph's rally to send the game into overtime and give the Gophers a lead in the extra period is great for Devoe Joseph. But it's problematic for everyone else. Let me explain.

The Gophers needed that late miracle from Joseph (back-to-back shots at the end of regulation, a pair of three-pointers in overtime) because they couldn't hold off the Hoosiers in the first half.

They had chances to shut off the faucet, but couldn't get beyond turnovers, poor shots, fouls and more fouls. A 13-9 lead turned into a 30-16 edge in the first half.

The second half run was impressive. Joseph broke a slump. Ralph Sampson III played with rare emotion.

But if a guy who's struggled from the field is leading the offense and a usually quiet center's the emotional leader, where's everyone else? 

See. That's the problem. 

Lawrence Westbrook was on the sidelines because of silly fouls, including a technical in the second half, and poor play down the stretch. Al Nolen couldn't buy a bucket. And Blake Hoffarber, well, he didn't do much, either. 

Damian Johnson got into early foul trouble, too. After the game, Tubby Smith said Johnson "thinks he can block every shot."  

Joseph performed without them, but he needed more help.

It's almost arrogant for the Gophers to wait until late in the second half to get energized and motivated. It's like they assumed they'd eventually rally.

It shouldn't take a team that's far from an NCAA tournament berth that long to turn on the jets.

Wait a minute. They were playing the Hoosiers, right? I'm still coming to grips with the potential ramifications of Sunday's game.

I think the Gophers have to beat Purdue or Michigan State at home or Ohio State on the road to stay in the hunt for an at-large berth by season's end. They probably have to beat two of those teams.

The Gophers will have opportunities to earn quality wins. But will they get them? 

They could lose their next three with back-to-back home games against Michigan State and Northwestern and a road trip to Ohio State. But if the Gophers get two wins during that stretch, they'd still be in a solid spot. But what if they return from Columbus with a 3-6 conference record? 

It's not over. But they can't afford any more bad losses.

 

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