Earlier in the week, when the Indiana Hoosiers played the Wisconsin Badgers, ESPN highlighted Thomas Bryant as a potential “green room guy”, meaning that he has a chance to be invited to the NBA Draft because he would be expected to be picked in the first 10-15 picks. Well Bryant looked like a “green room guy” on Saturday when the freshman big man helped the Hoosiers overcome a Minnesota Golden Gophers rally and win 74-68.
Bryant scored a career-high 23 points, including a huge bucket on an offensive rebound that gave the Hoosiers (18-4, 8-1) the lead again. Both him and Rob Johnson had a game-high eight rebounds.
“(Bryant) brings a lot of energy to everybody and the key is, when it’s not going so well, that he doesn’t get emotional the other way,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “That’s where he’s kind of continued to mature. I’m proud of him.”
Bryant scored the Hoosiers last three field goals of the game, which consisted of two in the final two minutes as well as one at the 8:08 mark of the second half. The last field goal was very interesting as OG Anunoby rebounded a missed three-pointer by Nate Mason with 37 seconds left and gave it to Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell. Ferrell noticed the Minnesota team wasn’t getting back on defense and instead of running down the clock to five seconds with a one-point lead he pushed the ball up the court and found Bryant for a dunk that put Indiana up 70-67 with 27 seconds left.
“I felt like they thought we were going to call a timeout, and then I see all four of their players walking to the sideline so I decided to push,” said Ferrell. “Luckily, Thomas was down there and I got him the ball on the dunk. It’s probably one of the weirder plays I’ve ever seen playing in a basketball game.”
The Golden Gophers, who still have yet to win a Big Ten game this season, started the game well with a 7-0 run before the Hoosiers took control of the game. Yet Minnesota never gave up as they steadily turned a 12-point halftime deficit into a one-point lead on a Dupree McBrayer dunk with 3:54 left. That would be the last field goal for the Golden Gophers (6-16, 0-10).
Both Kevin Dorsey and Mason scored a team-high 21 points for Minnesota while Indiana also received double-digit points from Troy Williams and Ferrell as both scored 13.
Indiana is now 8-1 in Big Ten at the halfway point of conference play, but things get tougher in the second half of the schedule starting with a matchup in Ann Arbor on Tuesday against the Michigan Wolverines. Game will start at 9pm and will be broadcast on ESPN.
From The Boxscore:
- One of the main reasons Minnesota was able to erase a 12-point halftime defecit is that the Golden Gophers were able to get to the rim at will in the second half, connecting on 15 layup or dunk attempts during the final 20 minutes.
- Another reason the Hoosiers almost lost was due to some uncharacteristic ice-cold three-point shooting. Indiana connected on only 2 of 18 from behind the arc, with the only makes coming from Rob Johnson and Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell.
- Coincidently, Minnesota also shot exactly 2 of 18 from three-point range with the only makes coming from Dupree McBrayer and Charles Buggs.
- Thomas Bryant not only scored a career-high 23 points but did it by making 11 of his 13 field attempts.
- Bryant wasn’t the Hoosier to set a career-high against Minnesota. Johnson also set a career-high with 8 rebounds.