MINNEAPOLIS (AP) –Adam Haluska scored 34 points to lead Iowa past Minnesota 91-78 on Wednesday night, the third straight win for the Hawkeyes.
Tyler Smith added 19 points and eight rebounds, and Tony Freeman and Mike Henderson each added 11 points for Iowa (14-10, 6-4 Big Ten), which went 10-for-16 from 3-point range. Haluska, who sank six of his 10 attempts from behind the arc, gave the Hawkeyes three points each on 10 separate possessions.
Center Spencer Tollackson returned from a broken left hand that kept him out the last month and scored 23 points for the Gophers (9-15, 3-7), who shot a season-best 63.3 percent from the floor. All seven of their conference losses have been by 10 points or more, and they host fourth-ranked Wisconsin and third-ranked Ohio State next week.
The on-the-bubble Hawkeyes moved within a half-game of third-place Indiana and strengthened their bid for an NCAA tournament selection with a much-needed victory on the road. It was their second in a row, in fact, after losing their first six games on the opponent’s court. They visit the Badgers on Saturday.
Minnesota came within 59-51 shortly after the 14-minute mark on a 3-pointer by McKenzie that capped a 10-0 run, but not any closer than that.
The Gophers just had too many ill-timed turnovers (they had 13 overall, including five by Tollackson) and gave up too many unchallenged shots to keep up.
They were glad to get their 6-foot-9, 265-pound junior out of his suit and back into the starting lineup, where his enthusiasm and leadership were missed along with his scoring and rebounding. Jonathan Williams played well at times during his absence, but Minnesota went 2-5 without him.
Tollackson sank his first five shots from the field on a variety of smooth spin moves near the basket, and his impact was immediately obvious. Barely two minutes into the game, he made a layup and drew a foul on Kurt Looby. Tollackson whirled around, pumped his fist at his teammates and slapped the floor – with his good hand – while several beads of sweat
Minutes later, Tollackson turned as he ran up the court to yell at Iowa coach Steve Alford, who fired a few words back as the teams separated during a timeout.
This was as good as the Gophers – who are averaging about 61 points per game, second-to-last in the Big Ten – have been on offense in a long time. Their problem was guarding the Hawkeyes’ two best players, Haluska and Smith.
Smith often sneaked wide open underneath for easy layups, and Haluska had three of his team’s seven makes from 3-point range in the first half. The last one with 44 seconds left gave Iowa a 47-36 lead.