Richard Pitino

Indiana center Thomas Bryant (31) shoots over Minnesota center Bakary Konate (21) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. Indiana won 74-68. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AP Photo/AJ Mast

Bryant helps No. 19 Hoosiers hold off Gophers for 74-68 win

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana’s Thomas Bryant got down and dirty Saturday and looked good doing it.

He scored points, banged inside, played defense and jump-started the Hoosiers’ sometimes anemic offense at three key points.

The freshman center had a career-high 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds and scored the go-ahead basket on a putback with 1:56 left to help No. 19 Indiana fend off Minnesota’s frantic second-half rally for a 74-68 victory.

“It was just one of those games that you have to do some things to find a way to win the game and he had a big impact,” coach Tom Crean said.

Bryant made plays on both ends in a game the Hoosiers (18-4, 8-1 Big Ten) desperately needed after the Golden Gophers erased a 16-point second-half deficit and took a 67-66 lead with 3:54 to go.

But Bryant clogged up the middle and the Golden Gophers didn’t make another basket.

Offensively, Bryant’s basket off the rebound and an emphatic dunk with 27 seconds left made it 70-67. That was all the Hoosiers needed.

“I felt like Thomas stayed with it even when calls didn’t go his way,” senior guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell said after scoring 13 points. “He kept his head, he played great defense, he rebounded well for us and he had that poise for us.”

This was no typical game for the surging Hoosiers.

They started slow, didn’t take the lead until midway through the first half, didn’t make a 3-pointer for the first 14 1/2 minutes and couldn’t close it out against a team that has now lost 11 in a row.

Minnesota (6-16, 0-10) was led by Nate Mason and Kevin Dorsey, who each had 21 points. Dorsey’s scoring total was a career high.

After trailing 39-27 at halftime and 48-32 with 16:33 to play, the Gophers rallied.

They scored six straight points, went on an 11-4 run and finally took the lead when Dupree Brayer came up with a steal and scored on a breakaway dunk that sent the Gophers bench jumping up and down while most of the fans inside Assembly Hall were stunned.

Bryant made sure it didn’t last.

“I think maybe they tightened up a little bit defensively, so you’ve got to give them credit,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “I know a lot of people make fun of us, our record, and so on. But these guys, they’re fighting.”

TOPSY-TURVY TURNAROUND

Minnesota opened the game with a 7-0 lead, then fell into a 12-point halftime deficit after Indiana went on a 22-4 run. The Gophers turned things around in the second half and came up short. It’s not the first time this season things have gotten a little topsy-turvy. Indiana rallied from a nine-point first-half deficit for a 70-63 win earlier this month at Minnesota.

THE SHOOTERS

Both teams finished 2 of 18 on 3-pointers, but it was Indiana’s numbers that really turned heads. The Hoosiers set a conference record in league play with 18 3s the last time Minnesota came to Bloomington, and the Hoosiers started the day No. 3 in the nation in 3-point percentage (44.4 percent). Afterward, Cream said he would have liked his team to have taken even more 3s.

SHORT-HANDED

After the game, Pitino noted that his team almost pulled off a major upset on the road despite playing with only seven scholarship players. Senior guard Carlos Morris, a team captain and former starter, missed the game to attend the funeral of a family friend.

TIP-INS

Minnesota: Outscored Indiana 48-42 in the paint and had the same offensive rebound total (10) as Indiana. … In addition to losing 11 in a row, the Gophers have lost three straight in the Indiana series and 15 of their last 16 Big Ten regular season games.

Indiana: Troy Williams also scored 13 points and had six rebounds. … Came into the game with three consecutive home wins by 25 or more points for the first time since 1987-88.

UP NEXT

Minnesota visits Northwestern on Thursday.

Indiana visits Michigan on Tuesday.

No. 1 Michigan State rebounds from midweek loss, beats Minnesota

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo reacts in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Minnesota, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Minneapolis. Michigan State won 69-61. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Associated Press
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On the heels of their worst defensive showing of the season in a 13-point loss at Iowa, No. 1 Michigan State rebounded Saturday afternoon with a 69-61 win at Minnesota.

Tom Izzo’s Spartans limited Minnesota to 33.8 percent shooting from the field and 5-for-20 from three, a far cry from the numbers Iowa was able to produce Tuesday night. The Hawkeyes shot better than 48 percent from the field, the best a Michigan State opponent has shot this season, routinely finding quality looks and outworking the Spartans on both ends of the floor.

That wasn’t the case against Minnesota. And while it is clear that Iowa has more talent than Minnesota, getting back to playing the hard-nosed defense their head coach demands of them is a positive response from a Michigan State team still playing without its leader in Denzel Valentine.

Offensively Michigan State did what it had to do in order to pick up the victory, but they’re still a bit disjointed without the versatile senior playmaker. Michigan State committed 11 turnovers, resulting in 14 Minnesota points that helped Richard Pitino’s team stay in the game. In three games without Valentine, Michigan State is averaging 14 turnovers per game, nearly three more than their average in the 12 games Valentine’s played in (11.2 tpg).

When the Spartans took care of the basketball Saturday they were able to produce points more times than not, shooting 49 percent from the field and 17-for-20 from the foul line.

Bryn Forbes led four Spartans in double figures with 20 points, and Matt Costello added 17 and 15 rebounds with fellow big men Gavin Schilling (eight points, five rebounds) and Deyonta Davis (ten points, four rebounds) also being solid performers. It goes without saying that there’s a clear difference in this team with Valentine off the court; it would be incredibly difficult for any team to not skip a beat with their best player out of the lineup.

With Valentine sidelined the “little things” become that much more important for Michigan State, and after being outworked in Iowa City the Spartans were closer to their true selves against Minnesota.

Richard Pitino defends father in Louisville scandal

Rick Pitino, Richard Pitino
Associated Press
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minnesota coach Richard Pitino is defending his embattled father, Rick Pitino, as allegations swirl around the Louisville program that a former staffer paid escorts to have sex with former recruits and players.

Richard Pitino spoke at Minnesota’s media day Wednesday. He says he had no knowledge of the allegations while he was an assistant at Louisville and also says he knows his father had no knowledge, either.

Katina Powell wrote a book that alleges former staffer Andre McGee paid her and several other women to party with recruits and players from 2010-2014.

Richard Pitino was on the staff at Louisville in 2010. He says the allegations were “very surprising.”

Rick Pitino has denied knowledge of the activities that Powell alleges in her book.