We get early evening basketball in the Twin Cities.
Has Minnesota already exacted its latest toll on Purdue? We have obviously seen Robbie Hummel x2 and Rondale Moore, but there have been other, more subtle ways that the Gophers have damaged us. For example: in the Saints-Bucs playoff game the Saints were driving with the lead in the third quarter when tight end Jared Cook fumbled in the flat. Who recovered it? Antoine Winfield Jr., a rookie from… Minnesota. It turned the game and probably ended Drew Brees’ career on a bittersweet note.
Let’s hope got their bloodletting out of the way, as we have a basketball game to win, and it is on that hated floor that cost us a Final Four.
From: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Game Location: Williams Arena (a.k.a, The Barn, a.k.a. Xibalba) (14,625)
Date: February 11, 2021
Time: 5pm ET
Radio: Boilermaker Sports Network
Odds: Minnesota by 2
2019-20 Record: 15-16, 8-12 Big Ten
2020-21 Record: 12-7, 5-7 Big Ten
Record vs. Purdue: Purdue leads 106-85
Last Purdue win: 81-62 at Purdue on 1/30/2021
Last Minnesota win: 75-73 in Big Ten Tournament on 3/15/2019
Blog Representation: The Daily Gopher
NCAA Tournament History: 14 appearances, last in 2019. Reached 1997 Final Four (vacated)
Coach: Richard Pitino (139-115 in 8th season at Minnesota, 157-129 overall)
This is a quick turnaround, as we last so the Gophers less than two weeks ago in Mackey Arena. There is some interesting symmetry to the game too. On January 30th Minnesota came to Purdue ranked in the low 20s and lost. Purdue took that ranking, the Gophers fell out, and now the situation is reversed. Since then, the Gophers lost a close 76-72 game at Rutgers and won 79-61 over last place Nebraska. The win over the Cornhuskers ended a streak where Minnesota lost three in a row and 5 of 6.
Purdue’s win a couple of weeks ago came as a result of perhaps its best half of basketball this season. With 9:24 left in the first half the Gophers were up 24-10 and the game was teetering on the edge of a blowout loss. From that point on Purdue outscored them 71-38. Minnesota led at halftime 35-30, but the Boilers absolutely blew their doors off in the second half 51-27.
A large reason that Purdue won is that Eric Hunter Jr. took Marcus Carr, now averaging 19.9 points per game, and stuffed him in a box for 40 minutes. He finished 2 of 13 from the floor and with only 6 points. Like the rest of his team though, Carr is a different player at home. The Gophers are 12-1 at home and have beaten top 5 Michigan, but they are 0-6 on the road. On Monday against Nebraska, Carr had 21 points and 8 assists.
This game probably hinges on what Carr does. He has the motivation that Purdue forced him into his worst game of the season by far. If Hunter does that again Purdue will win easily, but you can’t count on that.
Purdue did have a hard time handling Liam Robbins, especially on the defensive end. Robbins blocked 6 shots and added 15 points and 7 rebounds. Trevion Williams got the better of him though with a 17 and 14 night. Mason Gillis was also great with an 11 and 9 as Purdue dominated in the paint despite the defense of Robbins.
The other outlier, but in a good way for Purdue, was Brandon Newman. As bad as Carr was, Newman was the complete opposite. The freshman played like the experienced player Carr is and had a career high 29 points on 9 of 14 shooting. Just like how we can’t count on Carr being that bad again, we can’t count on Newman going crazy again.
As always, Purdue will go as far as our young guards will take us. Tre is going to get his (though he did struggle against Northwestern). It is no coincidence that in Purdue’s last two wins either Jaden Ivey or Newman has been at 20 points or more. When either one gets going Purdue is a lot better. If Sasha Stefanovic can get going after his long layoff, even better.
This won’t be an easy game. The Gophers are a much better team at home and Purdue was kind of flat against Northwestern on Saturday. It is still an opportunity for the Boilers to pick up another quality road win and build that NCAA profile.