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.