The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 09, 2022 1:00 am

Gophers biggest of rivals for Hoosiers' Thompson

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Indiana and Minnesota don't have much of a natural rivalry, despite playing in the same conference for more than a century. 

But when the Hoosiers and Golden Gophers meet this afternoon at Assembly Hall, at least one player wearing cream and crimson will take the game personally: Minneapolis native Race Thompson.

“This game to me is almost like a rivalry game,” said Thompson, whose father, Darrell Thompson, was a star running back for the Gophers in the late 1980s. “It's a little personal rivalry. You never want to lose to the hometown team because I live only 15 minutes from (Minnesota's) campus. 

“I told (the Hoosiers) I don't want to lose this game, so they know that, and I think we'll be ready to go when the ball tips.”

Indiana (11-3, 2-2 Big Ten) was ready from the tip against No. 13 Ohio State in its 67-51 victory Thursday, the first win over a ranked team in new coach Mike Woodson's tenure.

Woodson had spoken before the game about the need to put together a 40-minute effort, and the Hoosiers did so in a triumph that pushed them back to .500 in conference play and improved their record to 10-0 at Assembly Hall.

“All year, my inner circle people around the NBA and college world, they all talk about how hard we play,” Woodson told his team in the locker room after the win over the Buckeyes. “We just haven't put a 40-minute ball game together where we play hard. Tonight, we did that; from beginning to end. ... If you can play like this; ... it's a wrap, that's all I can tell you.”

Thompson was a significant factor in bringing energy against the Buckeyes, scoring three straight baskets during a clinching 19-3 run in the final minutes and playing stellar defense all night on star Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell. 

Thompson and Hoosiers backup forward Jordan Geronimo were able to hold Liddell to 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting. They'll need a similar performance to limit a similar player: 6-foot-7 Gophers forward Jamison Battle, a George Washington transfer with a smooth inside-outside game averaging 18.2 points and 6.2 rebounds.

“(Geronimo and I) talked about it and (against Liddell), we were just playing physical,” Thompson said. “Being on him, not necessarily pushing him, but never letting him feel comfortable. We really just locked in and guarded him how we guard each other every day in practice.”

Minnesota, like Indiana, is in its first season under a new head coach: Ben Johnson, a 41-year-old former Gophers player. With a roster full of transfers, the Gophers started 7-0 but have since suffered losses to Illinois and Michigan State in conference play.

See a video

To see a video about the Minnesota-Indiana game, click on this URL --

Indiana vs. Minnesota

When: Noon today

Where: Assembly Hall, Bloomington

Records: Indiana (11-3, 2-2 Big Ten), Minnesota (10-2, 1-2)

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