Minnesota Indiana Basketball

Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis (23) drives to the basket while being defended by Minnesota forward Eric Curry (1) during the second half Sunday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

BLOOMINGTON – As far back as October, first-year Indiana men’s basketball coach Mike Woodson recognized the way for the Hoosiers to win in the Big Ten would start with defense.

“When we started this journey, I told our guys if you hold teams to 60 (points) or under, you are going to have a chance to win a lot games,” Woodson said.

With balanced scoring and stops down the stretch, the Hoosiers (12-3, 3-2 Big Ten) withstood a second-half run to beat Minnesota 73-60 and remain unbeaten (11-0) at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

IU, which began the day ranked first in the Big Ten and second nationally in field goal percentage defense (35.1%), held Minnesota to just 38.3% shooting from the floor.

“That’s all what coach really preaches to us in practice is defense,” IU senior guard Rob Phinisee said.

IU shot 50% from 3-point range (7-of-14) in the first half to build a 39-29 halftime lead. But the Hoosiers hit a lull early in the second half, with Minnesota rallying back from down 12 points to take a 47-46 lead on a driving basket by forward Jamison Battle.

That’s when IU ratcheted up its defensive intensity. The Hoosiers held Minnesota to just two baskets in the final 10 minutes, one on a banked-in 3-point shot by Battle.

“We had the lapse, and then we really started to pick it back up and play,” Woodson said. “Coming down the home stretch those last three or four minutes, we were solid like we were at the end of the first half.”

Up 55-54, IU put the game away by going back inside during a 10-0 run that included three shots from close range from forward Race Thompson and a hook shot from Trayce Jackson-Davis.

“They went small, so I mean, if they’re going to play us small, we’ve got to spoon feed the ball inside,” Woodson said. “That’s what we did, and Race had a guard basically guarding him, and he also had Battle guarding him, too. So I was like, ‘Hey, let’s just get it inside and make them stop us.’”

Xavier Johnson led five Indiana scorers in double figures with 14 points and five assists, with Jackson-Davis adding 13 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Phinisee scored 13 points, going 4-of-9 from 3-point range, while guard Parker Stewart had 12 points and Thompson had 10 points.

Phinisee and Johnson combined for an assist-to-turnover ratio of 9-1. Defensively, both played together on the floor down the stretch.

“We get a lot of stops with me and him on the floor because it’s hard to beat us all off the dribble,” Johnson said. “We both pick up 94 feet, and we just let it play defense because we know it gets the team going.”

Sophomore swingman Trey Galloway also played down the stretch and provided another lift off the bench with six points, three rebounds and a blocked shot.

“Trey, he defends off the dribble,” Woodson said. “He got beat a few times tonight, but, hell, a lot of us got beat tonight off the bounce. I thought that was a big part of their offense, and we didn’t control it that well. Then when we did, we were really good defensively.”

Battle led Minnesota (10-3, 1-3) with 19 points, but IU made him work for that total, as Battle took 17 shots. Peyton Willis added 18 points.

“We just try to keep teams under 60 points and just try to shut off their best players,” Phinisee said. “I know they got some buckets, Willis and Battle, but I feel like we did a pretty decent job with them as a team defense.”

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