BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Gophers had won at Indiana's Assembly Hall only three times in the past two decades, but first-year coach Ben Johnson was already part of one of those victories as a player in 2004.
Johnson was trying to become the first Gophers coach since Tubby Smith in 2012 to win in Bloomington, Ind. But the Gophers couldn't overcome a three-point barrage from the Hoosiers in a 73-60 loss Sunday afternoon in front of 17,222.
The Gophers (10-3, 1-3 Big Ten) erased a 12-point deficit to take the lead in the second half, but they found out the Hoosiers were more than just a one-man team with All-America Trayce Jackson-Davis.
The Big Ten's top three-point defense overall this season wasn't on its game. The Gophers ranked fifth nationally in allowing opponents to shoot 25.8% from long distance, but the Hoosiers (11-3, 3-2) hit seven of their nine threes in the first half Sunday.
"We knew we were going to have to live with open shots," Johnson said. "Their biggest disappointment is they thought they had a chance. Anytime you can be on the road and take the lead in the middle of the second half, you've done enough to give yourself a chance. We just didn't finish it right."
Jamison Battle and Payton Willis combined for 37 points, including 23 points in the second half for the Gophers, but the Gophers were held scoreless from the field in the final three minutes.
Indiana needed only two threes in its upset of No. 13 Ohio State on Thursday, in which Jackson-Davis had 27 points. Jackson-Davis was held to 13 points against the Gophers, who gambled on having other players beat them.
Xavier Johnson led five Hoosiers players in double figures with 14 points. Rob Phinisee had 12 of his 13 points on 4-for-8 three-point shooting in helping Indiana go up 39-29 at halftime.
"We messed up on a couple scouting report assignments in the first half," Willis said. "Phinisee hit a couple threes. He really hadn't been doing that all year. That for sure played a role in their lead."
The Gophers were down 41-29 after Jackson-Davis scored to open the second half, but they responded with an 18-5 run sparked by Willis, who had 12 of his 18 points in the second half.
Willis and Battle, who finished with a team-high 19 points, exchanged baskets during a 13-2 run that gave Minnesota a 47-46 advantage after a layup from Battle at the 12:25 mark.
BOXSCORE: Indiana 73, Gophers 60
The Gophers' rally wasn't enough after taking their last lead at 49-48 after two free throws from E.J. Stephens, who had 12 points.
Former Northwestern player Miller Kopp was the fourth Hoosier to nail a three-pointer when he gave them back the lead for good, 51-49.
In Minnesota's three losses, Michigan State, Illinois and Indiana combined to shoot 42.4% (25-for-59) from beyond the arc. That was glaringly different from when the Gophers held Michigan to 3-for-18 shooting from deep in the Dec. 11 upset in Ann Arbor.
Compounding their problems is the fact that the Gophers also have been horrid from three during their losses. They shot 14-for-63 (22%) from deep in that stretch.
Johnson and the Gophers surprised the country starting the season 10-0, but they've been humbled so far with three losses in four games to open Big Ten play.
After a 13-day break between games, the Gophers showed up uninspired after Christmas when Kofi Cockburn looked unstoppable Tuesday with 29 points in a 76-53 loss against Illinois.
The Gophers will try to win their first game in 2022 with a rematch Wednesday night at No. 10 Michigan State, which won 75-67 on Dec. 8 in Minneapolis.
"We showed a lot of fight today," Battle said. "I think it just prepares us. Even though we lost there were a lot of good things to take away. We have to forget about [the loss] with a big game coming Wednesday against a top-10 team."