Gophers upset Purdue to reach Big Ten tournament semifinals
CHICAGO -- Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball players presented an understated reaction to upsetting Purdue, 75-73, in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals Friday, March 15.
Knocking off the co-Big Ten champions for the second time in 10 days and solidifying their spot in the NCAA tournament didn’t do much to stir U players on the United Center court.
After Boilermakers star guard Carsen Edwards missed the would-be game-winning 3-pointer with a second left, Amir Coffey grabbed the win-sealing rebound. He smiled and ran towards the bench; that was about it on an elation meter.
Seventh-seeded Minnesota, a 10-point underdog to second seed Purdue, advanced to Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. semifinal and will face the winner of Iowa/Michigan, which play in Friday night’s late quarterfinal. Top-seeded Michigan State plays fourth-seeded Wisconsin in a semi at noon.
Minnesota (21-12) was led by Jordan Murphy’s 27 points and eight rebounds, with Coffey adding 21.
Minnesota led for the opening 11 minutes of the second half, but Purdue chipped away and retook the lead with 12-2 run and a Edwards layup at 8:49.
Jordan Murphy’s three-point play gave the U the lead back at 72-71 with two minutes left. His two free-throws made it 74-71 but he was responsible for a shot-clock violation on the next possession.
Edwards, the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 23.4 points per game, was limited to 11 points in 17 shots. He had six points in the first half and was scoreless for the first eight-plus minutes of the second half. He was off all game and yawned when Coffey was at the foul line.
Purdue coach Matt Painter said the Gophers kept Edwards from getting into a rhythm with some layup and getting to the free-throw line. “Minnesota did a really good job defending him, not just in this game but also (at Williams Arena),” Painter said.
With Minnesota’s best win of the season, 73-69 over the Boilermakers on March 5, and Thursday’s 79-72 overtime victory over Penn State, the Gophers’ NCAA tournament resume was believed to be secured. There was no doubt after Friday.
Coach Richard Pitino called his players “zombies” for their lifeless start versus Penn State on Thursday, but Gophers were vigorous from the jump against Purdue. Boosted by 63 percent shooting, they led the Boilermakers 42-39 at the half
Minnesota opened up a six-point lead at 13-7 with a three-point play from Daniel Oturu five minutes into the game. The margin keyed on the U’s active defense setting up 12 points in the paint and seven off fast breaks.
Gabe Kalscheur relieved the stress on the Gophers top players by making three 3-pointers, including one banked in. His first-half production matched his total makes across the last four games when he was 3 for 11 (27 percent).
The Gophers struggled with 7-foot-3 center Matt Haarms, who led Purdue with 10 points on 5 of 7 shooting.
The Gophers beat the 11-ranked Boilermakers on senior night at Williams Arena. Coffey tied a career high with 32 points, while Edwards had 22 points on 31 shots in the U’s 73-69 win.
The Gophers won despite Ryan Cline making six 3-pointers and the Boilermakers grabbing 18 offensive rebounds, which tied their second-highest total this season.