Mbakwe's 21 points, 12 rebounds muscle Gophers past Indiana

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 27, 2013 - 7:33 AM

When the crowd finally cleared, the court at Williams Arena was a carcass.

Scattered paper debris and one stray pompom remained from the fray that overtook the Minnesota players after the buzzer sounded. The scoreboard was stuck showing the Gophers on top of No. 1 Indiana 77-73 long after the players paraded down to the locker room -- as if the fans could forget without the night's heroes there.

A half-hour later, not much else remained on the floor. Led by an incredibly aggressive 21-point, 12-rebound performance by Trevor Mbakwe, the Gophers (19-9, 7-8 in the Big Ten) had taken their last scrap of guts, heart, grit and hope and left it all there for the screaming, surging crowd of 14,625 to snatch off the wooden tiles.

Less than 30 minutes earlier, Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Hollins were standing near center court when Hollins hit one of two free throws with three seconds left to seal the victory and open the floodgates.

"All the sudden, Trevor fell and I ended up falling, and then Andre Hollins ended up falling -- so we were just all in the middle of the court on the ground for a while," Williams said. "When it happens like that, you don't really mind. That was a special moment for us."

One they fought for from the opening tip to the final seconds.

It felt like a certain destiny then, despite Indiana's Christian Watford's pair of three-pointers to shrink the Gophers' lead to four with 43 seconds to go and Jordan Hulls' three-pointer with four seconds left to put the Hoosiers (24-4, 12-3) within a single possession.

Minnesota had been here before -- in its first Big Ten loss, before the season ran off the tracks, when Indiana held off the Gophers' second-half surge and put them away.

"It was more of a pride thing," said Hollins (16 points, three assists). "The last time we played them, we just gave them the game. We let them dog us out, and we know we have to hold home court. It's a certain toughness you have to have when you play at home -- it's a little moxie you have to have because it's your place."

That the Gophers had witnessed frustrated, booing faces with signs calling for their coach to be fired as the losses dragged out and just three wins came in 11 games only added to the motivation.

Finally, the Gophers got angry, taking it out by totaling 44 rebounds to Indiana's 30, with an all-out attack in the paint, stellar defense on the Hoosiers' Cody Zeller (nine points, seven rebounds) and a perpetual intensity.

Minnesota led by six early and rebounded from a 34-30 deficit at the half by striking quickly in the second. Mbakwe, as he did in the first half, propelled his team with two quick baskets. When the Gophers trailed by seven with 13:12 left, Elliott Eliason's scoring led them back to a tie, with Hollins snapping out of a two-point first half to put Minnesota ahead.

Soon, the crowd was creeping closer, salivating for the chance.

"That's something -- you watch it on TV all the time and you always wish for it, and it finally happened," said Williams, who also got a hug and a kiss from his daughter amid the fray.

The arena guards could hold the fans back only so long.

So just before Williams hit the ground, he smiled and took it in.

Sports home page photo of Williams Arena crowd courtesy of Nadine Babu

  • GOPHERS 77, INDIANA 73 Next: 2 p.m. Saturday vs. Penn State • Williams Arena • BTN, 1500-AM

    GOPHERS 77, INDIANA 73
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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 30 3rd Qtr 2:52
Dallas 10
Seattle 7:30 PM
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Green Bay
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Kansas City
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Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 72 2nd Half 6:05
Indiana State 52
Cal State Fullerton 28 2nd Half
Wright State 33
Western Ky 16 1st Half 6:08
Saint Josephs 15
Michigan State 16 1st Half 12:18
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UCLA 6:00 PM
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(12) Arizona
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(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
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Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
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(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
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(24) Louisville
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(23) Clemson
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(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
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Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 45 2nd Half
BYU-Hawaii 25
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Montana 34
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

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