Indiana jumped five spots in the AP poll after pulling out two more wins last week.
While the Hoosiers’ efforts haven’t left much to be desired, coach Tom Crean knows there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Looking to stay undefeated at Assembly Hall, seventh-ranked Indiana tries to extend Minnesota’s season-worst losing streak to five games Thursday night.
The Hoosiers (15-1, 3-1 Big Ten), whose only loss came 80-65 at then-No. 16 Michigan State on Dec. 28, have since regrouped in impressive fashion. After knocking off then-No. 2 Ohio State 74-70 on Dec. 31, Indiana defeated then-No. 16 Michigan 73-71 last Thursday before prevailing 88-82 at Penn State on Sunday.
Crean’s team ranks in the top 10 nationally in field-goal percentage (50.5) and points per game (82.4), and is shooting a Division-I best 47.6 percent from 3-point range.
The Hoosiers continued their tremendous outside shooting versus the Nittany Lions, going 16 of 24 (66.7 percent) from beyond the arc - their most made 3s in almost five years.
Junior Jordan Hulls scored a career-high 28 points while going 7 of 9 from long distance, and senior reserve Matt Roth made 5 of 6 3s to finish with a season-best 22 points.
“It’s a testament to how well we moved the ball,” Roth said. “We had a lot of inside-out stuff to get us started. That’s always nice to get that shot when you’re shooting 3s and it’s coming from the middle.”
Despite its impressive performance, Indiana committed 16 turnovers and had trouble putting Penn State away.
“The key for us is that commitment to tough practices, that commitment to execution, that commitment to having energy but most importantly that commitment to improvement because I think our team can continue to get better,” Crean said. “I don’t think we were playing great by any stretch, I don’t think that’s even in the cards.
“In this league you’re gonna be tested every night and if you’re not getting better, you’re gonna fall behind quickly.”
The Hoosiers, who have outscored opponents by an average of 24.0 points in opening 11-0 in Bloomington, could make things difficult on the reeling Gophers (12-5, 0-4).
Minnesota won 12 of 13 during its non-conference schedule but dropped to 0-4 in Big Ten play with Sunday’s 79-66 loss to Purdue. The Gophers haven’t lost their first five conference games since opening 0-6 in 2005-06.
“A loss is a loss, it doesn’t matter how much you lose by,” said junior Rodney Williams, who posted career highs of 19 points and 14 rebounds. “We have a lot of basketball to still play. We need to stay positive.”
Freshman Joe Coleman posted season bests of 14 points and six boards in his first start Sunday, while fellow guard Chip Armelin scored 12 off the bench.
Minnesota is shooting just 41.5 percent during its slide - significantly lower than its season mark of 47.3.
In addition to trying to slow down the Hoosiers’ outside game, the Gophers could struggle to contain freshman standout Cody Zeller. The 6-foot-11 forward, averaging team bests of 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds, leads the Big Ten with a 66.1 field-goal percentage.
Minnesota has been outscored by an average of 14.0 points in losing 43 consecutive road matchups versus Top 25 opponents. The Gophers have dropped nine of 11 at Indiana.