At times, Purdue can play like one of the Big Ten’s best teams. Other times, it can look like the conference’s worst.
In Sunday’s 82-79 loss to Minnesota, the Boilermakers were more of the latter than the former. They struggled on offense for much of the game, all while giving a weak effort on defense. As the Golden Gophers stayed red hot from beyond the arc, hitting 11 of 24 three-pointers, Purdue just didn’t have an answer.
At one point in the second half, Minnesota opened up a 16-point lead. Purdue would rally back and cut the lead down to three in the final seconds, but it was too little, too late. A late comeback fell just short as Kendall Stephens’ half-court heave fell short as the buzzer sounded.
A contest which became close was eventually decided by free throws, where the Golden Gophers hit on 23 of their 27 attempts. Coincidentally, Minnesota’s Malik Smith missed two of those free throws with four seconds left to allow the Boilermakers one last shot to tie the game.
Purdue was led by Terone Johnson’s 18, while Ronnie Johnson added 12 and Sterling Carter contributed with 10 off the bench. The most alarming figures show what Purdue didn’t do. Center A.J. Hammons—coming off a season-best performance—had just seven points and one rebound. The Boilermakers just couldn’t get their big man involved in the game.
Minnesota’s Austin Hollins led the Gophers with 18 points while Andre Hollins added 17.
In the end, Minnesota was consistent from start to finish while Purdue showed it’s still a great mystery.