CHICAGO (AP) -- Iowa got off to a fast start and a big lead, thanks to Kyle Galloway's hot 3-point shooting. Still, the Hawkeyes struggled to put undermanned and scrappy Minnesota away in the Big Ten tournament.
Not until Galloway hit four free throws in the final 15 seconds and a Minnesota 3-point attempt just before the buzzer bounced off the rim was the victory secured.
''They were down 20 and all of a sudden they got really aggressive. We didn't handle that well. We didn't handle being in a wild game,'' Iowa coach Steve Alford said after the Hawkeyes survived a furious Gophers rally for a 81-78 victory Thursday night.
Minnesota, its roster short-handed and its program reeling from an academic cheating scandal, trailed by 21 points early in the second half and was still behind 72-55 with 8:30 to go.
But Terrance Simmons brought the Gophers (12-16) back. Just not all the way.
Simmons had 18 second-half points and scored Minnesota's final 10 during a 23-7 run that pulled the Gophers to within one with 5.9 seconds to go. His 3-pointer at the buzzer for a tie went off the rim and Minnesota headed home with a gallant effort and a seven-game losing streak.
''I had to get the team going. I'm just sorry I didn't do it sooner,'' Simmons said.
The Gophers, under a self-imposed, one-year ban from postseason play following a program-shaking academic scandal, lost on a day the school announced that 17 current and former athletes face possible discipline for their role in the cheating.
Coach Dan Monson said none of them are current players.
''I don't know how fair it's been for them to go through all the things they've had to endure,'' Monson said. ''They belong some place in Gopher basketball history.''
Minnesota was without its best player, center Joel Przybilla, who quit the team last month after he was suspended for missing classes. The Gophers also missed forward John-Blair Bickerstaff, out after breaking his leg in February, and had only four players on their roster who'd ever played in the three-year-old Big Ten tournament.
Iowa, meanwhile, got its first victory in the league tournament following quarterfinal losses in the first two years.
Galloway scored 20 of his points in the first half for Iowa (14-15), which played one of the country's toughest schedules in Alford's first season.
Now, the Hawkeyes get to face another one of the country's elite when they meet second-seeded Michigan State in Friday's quarterfinals. They'll need a stronger performance.
''We had a 20-point lead for most of the second half. But we hit the nine-minute mark and something happened,'' Alford said.
''They did a great job of coming back and making us do things they need us to do to come back. We played very poor defense and allowed them to get back in the game.''
Schilling 6-11 2-2 15, Rychart 6-14 6-7 18, Wildenborg 2-3 0-0 4, Ohnstad 0-4 0-0 0, Simmons 5-12 8-9 20, Sinville 2-3 1-3 5, Burleson 4-5 0-0 9, Keating 0-0 0-0 0, Sanden 2-5 3-4 7, Aune 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-57 20-25 78.
Henderson 1-5 5-6 7, Griffin 5-14 1-4 14, Jaacks 6-10 5-6 18, Price 1-3 2-2 4, Oliver 0-5 0-2 0, Fermino 1-1 1-1 3, Thompson 2-6 1-2 5, Galloway 7-9 11-11 30, Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-53 26-34 81. Halftime--Iowa 46, Minnesota 30. 3-Point goals--Minnesota 4-14 (Schilling 1-3, Ohnstad 0-3, Simmons 2-5, Burleson 1-2, Sanden 0-1), Iowa 9-16 (Griffin 3-6, Jaacks 1-3, Galloway 5-7). Fouled out--Schilling. Rebounds--Minnesota 36 (Rychart 16), Iowa 30 (Oliver 7). Assists--Minnesota 19 (Simmons 6), Iowa 20 (Price 6). Total fouls--Minnesota 25, Iowa 21. A--N/A.
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