The only player that was alive when the Minnesota Gophers last took down the No. 1 team in the country was Trevor Mbakwe.
That was in 1989 and Mbakwe was just two weeks old.
On Tuesday night, Mbakwe, who is the oldest player on the Gopher squad, helped Minnesota shock college basketball by beating the top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers at home, 77-73.
Mbakwe scored a game-high 21 points and recorded his first double-double in three weeks with 12 rebounds.
The Gophers (19-9, 7-8) won just its fourth game in the month of February, but it was the defying moment in Minnesota’s season thus far.
Tubby Smith rallied his roster for the signature win, led by Mbakwe. The 24-year-old senior started the game with vigor, scoring the Gophers first six points. He scored ten points in the first six minutes of the game.
Smith then made a risky move of substituting in Elliott Eliason for Mbakwe. Following the coaching decision, Indiana went on a 11-0 run in less than a minute. The run included five points in a matter of just three seconds.
Overall, Mbakwe and the rest of the Minnesota frontcourt was no match to the Hoosiers (24-4, 12-3) but Cody Zeller had one of his worst performances of the season.
Zeller was stymied offensively, scoring just nine points on Tuesday. The sophomore did not make a field goal in the first half.
His frontcourt partner, Christian Watford, was also silenced in the opening half. The senior added eight points, but six of those points came in the final minutes.
Rodney Williams joined Mbakwe in the starting lineup on Tuesday after missing last week’s game at Ohio State. Williams added seven points, five rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and one assist.
Williams added five rebounds, helping the Gophers to a 38-25 rebounding advantage. He also came up with three of Minnesota’s 17 offensive rebounds.
The Hoosiers were led offensively by senior Jordan Hulls. Hulls nailed four three-pointers in the first half and finished with 17 points on the evening. Indiana made nine three-pointers as a team.
Minnesota did not have a shooting stroke from beyond the arc. The Gophers had a stretch of 10 straight three-pointers that were missed and were just four of 20 from distance Tuesday.
As a team, Minnesota shot under 43 percent from the field.
Luckily, Andre Hollins found his jumpshot late in the contest. He added 10 of his 16 points in the final eight minutes of the game.
A big difference in this game was the bench.
Eliason and Maverick Ahanmisi went on a 10-2 run of their own in the middle of the second half, closing the deficit as Minnesota tied the game, 46-46. Eliason finished with seven points, a season high for the big man who had the duty of guarding Zeller for stretches of the game.
Minnesota finishes the month of February with conviction after struggling for the majority of the month. The Gophers remaining games are against Penn State, Nebraska, and Purdue.
The Gophers’ last home game is Saturday against Penn State, also Senior Day.