Gophers Stun Purdue on Senior Night at the Barn
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Amir Coffey matched his career high with 32 points, making two free throws with 2.5 seconds left on Tuesday night to seal Minnesota's 73-69 victory over No. 11 Purdue and give the Gophers a big boost for an NCAA Tournament berth.
"When you're a young coach and you're trying to build, that's really, really important and very, very rewarding to see your guys experience that," said coach Richard Pitino, who promised his team a win in this game would get them in the tournament he's taken the Gophers to once in his first five years.
Carsen Edwards scored 22 points for Purdue (22-8, 15-4), but he needed 31 shots to get there and finished just 3 for 15 from 3-point range. The Boilermakers, who had their five-game winning streak broken and lost for only the second time in their last 15 games, fell into a three-way tie for first place in the conference with Michigan and Michigan State. The Wolverines and Spartans play each other this weekend, so the best the Boilermakers can do is tie for the regular-season title.
Jordan Murphy scored all 13 of his points in the first half to go with 14 rebounds for the Gophers (19-11, 9-10), providing his usual yeoman's effort underneath to help offset a season-long struggle with the 3-point shot. Fellow seniors Dupree McBrayer (10 points, four rebounds, four assists) and Matz Stockman (nine points, six rebounds, seven blocks) also played key roles.
Coffey, a junior point guard, was coming off his first career double-double with 31 points and 12 rebounds in a win Thursday at Northwestern. He chipped in stout defense on Edwards, too.
"I'm proud of him," Murphy said. "He helped send us off in one of the best ways we could go."
The Gophers nearly had the ball stolen on an errant inbound pass but maintained possession after a replay review. The next time they got the ball safely to Coffey for the final pair of foul shots.
STELLAR SENIOR NIGHT
The Gophers included in pregame warmups senior Jarvis Johnson, an acclaimed hometown recruit who was prevented from playing at all in college by a heart condition. McBrayer received an especially big ovation as he hugged his aunt, standing in for his late mother, Tayra McFarlane, who died on Dec. 3 of cancer.
Pitino, who also addressed the crowd after the game, predicted that Murphy, who's the second-leading rebounder in Big Ten history and in sixth place and climbing on the program's career scoring list, would eventually have his No. 3 jersey retired.
After wasting a 47-34 lead at Purdue with less than 15 minutes left in a 73-63 loss on Feb. 3, the Gophers never trailed over the final 31:35 with just one tie in that span. They went 27 for 36 at the free throw line.
Purdue: At last-place Northwestern on Saturday afternoon.
Minnesota: Concludes the regular-season conference schedule Friday night at No. 24 Maryland.