Indiana doesn’t plan to use its recent off-court distractions as an excuse for when something goes wrong.
The 18th-ranked Hoosiers look to bounce back from their worst defeat in four years when they host Minnesota on Wednesday night.
Indiana (24-5, 13-3 Big Ten) lost 103-74 at then-No. 19 Michigan State on Sunday for its most lopsided defeat since losing 79-45 at Wisconsin on Jan. 6, 2004.
The loss snapped the Hoosiers’ four-game winning streak and was their first in three games since Kelvin Sampson resigned as coach on Feb. 22 amid NCAA allegations of major rule infractions.
“These kids have been through a lot, but it’s been (more than) 10 days and that’s no excuse,” interim Indiana coach Dan Dakich said. “We have to be better.”
The Hoosiers dropped into third place in the league, trailing No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 15 Purdue in the race for the Big Ten title with two games to play.
“The championship was in our hands,” Indiana forward Lance Stemler said. “Now, we’ve got to rely on other people.”
Though the Hoosiers, who close the regular season at Penn State on Sunday, have clinched one of the top three seeds in next week’s Big Ten tournament at Indianapolis, they have to play better defensively than they did Sunday if they expect to go into that event with any momentum.
On Sunday, Indiana allowed Michigan State to shoot 60.7 percent - including 78 percent in the first half en route to a 59-31 deficit.
The Hoosiers, whose opponents are shooting 41.3 percent and averaging 65.1 points this season, allowed their highest point total since losing 112-64 at Michigan State on Feb. 22, 1998.
“(Michigan State) hit a lot of shots, but we didn’t play defense at all,” said Indiana freshman Eric Gordon, who had 22 points. “We let them score 103 points. That should never happen.”
The Hoosiers likely won’t allow that to happen Wednesday as they try to close their home schedule with a fourth consecutive win at Assembly Hall and third straight overall against Minnesota (18-10, 8-8), which is looking to boost its NCAA tournament resume.
Senior D.J. White, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds against Michigan State, will play his final game in Bloomington on Tuesday. He leads the conference with 10.4 rebounds per game and averages 17.0 points to rank second in the Big Ten behind Gordon, who scores 21.4 per game.
The 6-foot-9 White helped atone for a poor performance from Gordon in a 65-60 road win over Minnesota on Jan. 17. As Gordon was held to 12 points and tied a season high with seven turnovers, White had 17 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 7-of-12 from the field.
White has averaged 17.4 points and 7.2 assists in five career games versus the Gophers.
Minnesota won 71-57 at home over struggling Ohio State on Saturday for its third win in four games. Lawrence McKenzie scored 20 points and backcourt mate Lawrence Westbrook added 16 for the Gophers, who held the Buckeyes to 40.8-percent shooting and had a 37-24 rebounding advantage.
“I think we were all thinking this (could be a signature win),” said Westbrook, who combined with McKenzie for just 16 points in the January loss to Indiana. “We did a good job with everyone contributing, and we’re glad that we were able to come out on top.”
Minnesota, however, might need at least one victory over a ranked team to have any shot at making the NCAA tournament, assuming it does not win the Big Ten tournament. The Gophers are 0-6 versus Top 25 teams this season and have lost their last 11 games versus ranked opponents.