MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Tom Crean didn't need a scouting report on
The Indiana coach recruited Mbakwe to Marquette back in 2007 and
coached him for a year before leaving to take over the reeling
Mbakwe followed Crean out the door and, after a roundabout two
years, has emerged as a dominant force for Minnesota. And after
another tough week for the program, coach Tubby Smith and the
Golden Gophers have never needed Mbakwe more.
Mbakwe scored 11 points and tied career highs with 16 rebounds
and five blocks to lead Minnesota to a 67-63 victory over Indiana
on Tuesday night, the Golden Gophers' first Big Ten victory of the
"He's outstanding," Crean said. "There's no question that if
he worked and was able to develop the way he was capable of, he'd
end up at the point that he is right now. So it doesn't surprise me
Rodney Williams scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half to
help the Gophers (12-3, 1-2) rally from nine points down. Al Nolen
added 14 points, six rebounds and four steals to help them hang on
for the win on the same day versatile guard Devoe Joseph was
granted his release from the program.
Smith announced Monday that Joseph would be suspended for the
second time this season for violating team rules. But Joseph said
goodbye for good Tuesday.
"It was a real tough win for us and one we needed with the
distractions of late," Smith said. "With Devoe Joseph leaving the
team, you always wonder about how your team is going to respond. I
thought our kids came ready to play. They did some good things and
some poor things."
Verdell Jones III scored 13 points for the Hoosiers (9-7, 0-3),
including a 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds to go that made the score
But Blake Hoffarber closed out the game at the free throw line
after a near-steal by Indiana to hand the Hoosiers their fifth
straight loss. Hoffarber finished with a game-high 16 points.
"When you do everything you can do to come back and you get a
loose-ball foul, especially in a game like that, that's tough to
swallow," Crean said.
Leading scorer Christian Watford had just four points on
2-for-13 shooting for the Hoosiers, who are fading after a 6-0
start against a soft schedule. But they went down fighting at the
Indiana's 15-0 run late in the first half helped forge a 32-26
lead at the break, and the Hoosiers led 51-49 with 8:30 to play.
But they went scoreless for nearly eight of the final 20 minutes of
the game in two separate 10-0 runs by Minnesota to let the game
"I think Devoe is definitely going to be missed," Nolen said
of the junior who was averaging 11.2 points off the bench. "I miss
him already, just him not being around. I think it's going to take
a team effort to replace Devoe, and I think a lot of guys stepped
Williams scored eight of Minnesota's 10 points during the
Gophers' initial run and Mbakwe blocked three shots, including an
emphatic block of a dunk attempt by Bobby Capobianco, to take a
The Hoosiers hung around for the next five minutes or so until
the Gophers surged again. Williams capped their second 10-0 run of
the half with an incredible dunk over two defenders, giving
Minnesota a 59-51 lead with 5:15 to play.
"I think we're handling it really good," said Maurice Creek,
who had 12 points and five boards for the Hoosiers. "Nobody put
their heads down. We all stuck together as one team, and nobody was
off to the side. We just stayed together, and that's what we've got
It was a much-needed victory for the Gophers, who opened the Big
Ten schedule with losses at Wisconsin and Michigan State. It's
still early, but a loss to the struggling Hoosiers at home would
have been disastrous.
"Starting 0-3 in the Big Ten, it was going to be tough to get
out of that hole," Williams said. "I think everybody just knew
coming out in the second half we were going to have to fight to get
Indiana had no answer for Mbakwe on the low block early, with
the burly power forward scoring seven points and grabbing five
boards in the first 3 1/2 minutes. He didn't score a point and had
only one rebound the rest of the half despite having 4 inches and
30 pounds on Jeremiah Rivers, who fronted him and refused to allow
The Gophers took a 23-17 lead with 5:05 to go in the first half,
but they managed just three points the rest of the way. Indiana
responded with its 15-0 run, and Minnesota again was stagnant in
the half-court offensively, a problem that has plagued them
throughout Smith's tenure.
"We really have to work on that," Smith said. "I was just
very concerned about that one aspect."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)