MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Vincent Grier scored 18 points to lead Minnesota to its third straight home victory over a ranked team, 74-61 over No. 18 Iowa on Saturday.
Adam Boone had 12 points and Jamal Abu-Shamala added 11 for the Gophers (13-10, 4-8 Big Ten), while Zach Puchtel and Spencer Tollackson each had 10.
Iowa (20-7, 9-4) was coming off its sixth victory in seven games after beating No. 16 Michigan State on Tuesday to take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
With four games left in the regular season, the Hawkeyes looked to be in good position to clinch their first outright Big Ten title in 36 years.
But in front of 14,308, their largest home crowd of the season , the Gophers made the situation a bit more complicated.
Minnesota entered the game 2-5 against ranked teams this season, but it handily beat Indiana and Michigan State at home. And the Gophers stuck to the formula that earned them those double-digit victories, playing an aggressive defense that limited Iowa to 19-or-46 shooting from the field.
This game, though, wasn’t decided until the final minutes.
Greg Brunner led Iowa with 17 points and Jeff Horner had 13.
After trading baskets to start the second half, Iowa scored 10 straight points to take a 51-50 lead. The Hawkeyes clogged the lane to take away Minnesota’s inside game, which had been so effective in the first half. The Gophers had 24 points in the paint in the first half, but didn’t get an inside basket for nearly 13 minutes in the second.
Horner hit a 3-pointer at the 10:32 mark and Adam Haluska hit three foul shots after Boone fouled him on a 3-point attempt to give Iowa a 51-50 lead with just over 10 minutes to play.
But Minnesota responded with an 11-3 run by moving the ball and finding easy shots.
Erek Hansen’s dunk with 3:41 to play pulled Iowa to 61-58, but the Hawkeyes wouldn’t get any closer as Minnesota scored nine of its final 11 points on free throws.
Just as they did against the Hoosiers and Spartans, the Gophers jumped on Iowa early with a mix of aggressive defense and accurate shooting.
Iowa slowed the Gophers for a brief span late in the first half while scoring six straight points to pull to 28-27 with 3:16 to play in the half. But Tollackson scored on two straight possessions for Minnesota and had a nice feed to Grier for an easy layup to give the Gophers some breathing room.
Boone’s layup just beat the halftime buzzer to give Minnesota a 38-29 lead. It tied Iowa’s largest halftime deficit of the season.