Minnesota was all over Purdue early and held on late to beat a No. 11 Boilermakers team that was hoping for a win to help wrap up sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
The Gophers put up the first shot and the last shot, and held the lead nearly the entire time in between. Their 73-69 upset win over Purdue not only drops the Boilermakers down into a tie for first place in the Big Ten with Michigan and Michigan State, but it also gives Minnesota a crucial conference win heading into the postseason.
How it happened
A jumper from Minnesota’s Amir Coffey put the Gophers ahead 15-14 with 11:35 left in the first half to start a slow, methodical march that put Purdue in a 37-27 hole at halftime. Jordan Murphy, Dupree McBrayer, Daniel Oturu and Brock Stull all recorded points as the Gophers gave themselves a cushion at halftime.
Purdue stormed back to outscore Minnesota 42-36 in the second half. The Boilermakers even pulled within one point with nine minutes left, but couldn't close the deal. Coffey and Co. continued to put up shot after shot, extending their lead every time Purdue came close. Ryan Cline hit a 3-pointer with 3:06 to play that brought Purdue within three, bringing hope back to the Boilermaker bench, but again, Coffey came to the free throw line and kept Minnesota ahead. The game proved to be a story of effort on the Purdue side and execution on the Minnesota side.
Contributing to Purdue's troubles was its inaccuracy from inside and behind the arc as the Boilermakers shot 35.3 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from 3-point range. The Boilermakers also hit just 50 percent of their free throws compared to Minnesota's 75 percent from the line. Minnesota fared worse than its opponent from three, scoring on just 28.6 percent of its attempts, but made up for that stat with 42.9-percent field goal accuracy.
Carsen Edwards led Purdue with 22 points, but his production came on 31 shots. Minnesota’s Amir Coffey led both teams in scoring with 32 points, and did so on just 15 field goal attempts. Jordan Murphy and Dupree McBrayer also posted a double-digit point totals for Minnesota with 13 and 10 points respectively.
What it means
For Purdue, the result doesn't ruin their chances of a Big Ten regular season title, but it does rob the Boilermakers of the chance to become the sole conference champs. The loss drops Purdue from its spot as the sole first-place team into a tie for first with Michigan and Michigan State, two teams that play each other on Saturday. If Purdue beats Northwestern on Saturday and moves to 16-4, the Boilermakers will claim part of the Big Ten regular season title with the winner of Michigan State-Michigan. If Purdue loses, either Michigan or Michigan State will walk away with the title and the momentum heading into the postseason.
For Minnesota, this is a victory that will look nice on their NCAA tournament resume. In his recent March Madness breakdown, Andy Katz put the Gophers as a No. 11 seed. Tonight's win also helps their odds of avoiding a play-in spot as a member of the First Four, though nothing is guaranteed.