Minnesota native Thompson coming up big for Indiana after considering transfer home to Gophers

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – After his season ended last March, Race Thompson thought about finishing his college basketball career somewhere other than Indiana.

The 6-8 Plymouth native entered the transfer portal and was contacted by several programs, notably the Gophers from his home state.

Thompson, the son of former Gophers running back legend Darrell Thompson, could've easily been wearing a different uniform Sunday when his father watched Indiana's 73-60 victory over Minnesota, but he couldn't see himself leaving the Hoosiers.

Trayce Jackson-Davis and Thompson, who combined for 23 points and 17 rebounds Sunday, were convinced to return by first-year coach Mike Woodson.

"We talked a lot about Coach Woodson and what he had planned coming back for Indiana," said Thompson, who had 10 points and five rebounds against the Gophers. "I think that really helped me in my decision. But I really took my time."

First-year Gophers coach Ben Johnson recruited Thompson at Armstrong High when he was an assistant under Richard Pitino. That made playing for the U a strong possibility.

"It was fun going through it again," Thompson said about the recruiting process. "He got to see me play in college and was happy I was doing well. Me and Ben already had that relationship where it wasn't weird. We were just having a conversation. He's a good coach and a good person. I like Ben a lot, but I think Indiana was again the best fit for me."

In the second half Sunday, the Hoosiers received a lift from Thompson after blowing a 12-point lead. Thompson's two free throws made it 48-47 for Indiana at the 12-minute mark.

Jamison Battle's layup cut the Gophers' deficit to 55-54 three minutes later, but Thompson answered with six points during Indiana's 10-0 run, including a jump hook for an 11-point advantage just under four minutes to play.

Battle was disappointed in Sunday's loss, but he remembers hanging out with Thompson when they both played on different D1 Minnesota AAU teams at the same time.

"It's just cool to see how well we're both doing," Battle said. "I don't really talk too much trash, but it's always good to see a guy like Race who has been part of the D1 Minnesota program."

Sutherlin back

Senior guard Sean Sutherlin missed the second half of Tuesday's game with an ankle injury, but he returned to play Sunday against Indiana. Sutherlin, who averaged 8.0 points, finished with four points and three rebounds in 17 minutes. He had just two points in 11 minutes against Illinois in a game last week.