Victor Oladipo

No. 5 Indiana barely hangs on against No. 8 Minnesota


It’s tough for a team to feel good about themselves after losing a game on the road in which they were down 23 points at halftime, but that’s exactly how the Gophers should feel after their 88-81 loss at Indiana on Saturday afternoon.

Because, let’s face it, when the Hoosiers get rolling at home, there aren’t too many teams that are going to be able to slow them down.

That’s precisely what happened in the first half. Indiana got into a rhythm, and there simply wasn’t anything that Minnesota could do. Cody Zeller was off and running in transition. Victor Oladipo was playing like a guy deserving of a spot on an all-america team. Jordy Hulls was hitting threes. Yogi Ferrell was doing his best John Stockton impression. It was a pleasure to watch and a nightmare to play against, and it’s something that is going to happen over and over this season.

Minnesota could have rolled over, the same way that North Carolina did when the Tar Heels were, quite literally, run out of Assembly Hall back in November.

But they didn’t.

In fact, Minnesota came all the way back.

If Trevor Mbakwe didn’t miss a box out with 19 seconds left on a missed free throw by Hulls, the Gophers would have had the ball down three with a chance to tie the game.

Think about that for a minute. Minnesota was on the road, playing against arguably the best team in the country that was in the kind of zone that made them look like unquestionably the most dominant team in the country. Assembly Hall was a wall of sound. The Gophers looked like a group of intimidated high school seniors.

And they still managed to turn the tide for the second 20 minutes, completely outplaying the Hoosiers.

That’s not an easy thing to do.

If Minnesota had a couple more minutes or if they had managed to keep their halftime deficit under 20, they may have actually won this game. And while a loss is a loss at the end of the day, I think Minnesota fans can feel pretty good about the fact that they were able to make a comeback on Indiana on the road.

Because moral victories are really the only thing road teams are going to be getting in Bloomington this season.


Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.

Coach Hamilton likes mix on Florida State basketball roster

ACC Basketball Tournament: Florida State v North Carolina
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State is the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference that returns all five of its starters from last season.

For most teams that would be cause for celebration. For coach Leonard Hamilton it means he is hoping the struggles of the past two seasons have been valuable experience.

The Seminoles had their first practice on Wednesday as they are looking to bounce back from a season in which they went 17-16 and didn’t play in a postseason tournament for the first time in 10 years.

“We have five starters returning from a team that won 17 games. We have guys that have been around, who know their shortcomings and can pass on their wisdom to the younger players,” Hamilton said.

With an experienced roster and a highly regarded recruiting class, Hamilton is hoping to lead the Seminoles back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, which is also the year they won the ACC Tournament.

Jarquez Smith, the leading returning scorer from last season, said the open gyms before the start of practice have been extremely competitive as the incoming recruiting class has tried to assert itself early.

“We’ve been going at each other’s neck and it has gotten very competitive,” Smith said. “Everyone is fighting for their position because the guys coming off the bench are just as athletic as who is on the court.”

The newcomers feature Dwayne Bacon (a McDonald’s All-American selection), Terance Mann (the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Hampshire) and Malik Beasley (the Georgia 1A Player of the Year). There’s also Chris Koumadje, who at 7-foot-4 will be the tallest player in school history, and Benji Bell, who helped lead Northwest Florida State to the JUCO National Title.

“This is a very confident and focused group of inexperienced players,” Hamilton said. “They want to make something special happen but aren’t taking anything for granted.”

Two things that Hamilton will look to work on during preseason practices is defense and figuring out his rotation. The Seminoles suffered from a lack of depth last season but this year he could have a roster that goes 10 deep and allows him to go to more of a full-court pressing style of defense.

Xavier Rahan-Mayes led the team in scoring last season, averaging 14.9 points en route to becoming the first freshman in ACC history to score 30 or more points three times. The one thing he said he noticed in preseason practices were that everyone played off each other’s strengths.

Florida State’s first exhibition game is Nov. 2 against Lynn University before opening the season on Nov. 15 against Nicholls State.

“I think we have a pretty good combination of experience and an influx of new players. Any time you have that type of scenario you appreciate it,” Hamilton said. “It looks like we have it moving in the right direction. We’ve had a good offseason and regrouped.”