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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, February 25, 2018 6:20 pm

No. 9 Purdue 84, Minnesota 60: Quick thoughts

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue (26-5, 15-3 Big Ten) opened the game playing like the team that won 19 games in a row earlier this season. The Boilermakers used a big early run to shoot to a 24-8 lead barely nine minutes into the game. The defining feature of the run, and for much of the first half, was tremendous defense from Purdue. The Boilers made everything difficult for Minnesota and both Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms were dominant in the paint defensively.

After a Minnesota timeout, however, the Gophers (15-16, 4-14) began to cut into the lead. Vincent Edwards tried to get himself going on offense after missing two games and struggled to find the range on offense. He went one-on-one a couple of possessions in a row and came up empty, eventually shooting 0 for 5 in the first half. Meanwhile, the Gophers made five of six attempts, embarking on a 10-0 run that sliced their deficit to 26-21.

The run, culminating in a Nate Mason 3-pointer, forced Matt Painter to burn a timeout with six minutes left in the half. Mason scored 12 points in the opening half to keep his team in it, but after the late timeout, Carsen Edwards helped the Boilers extend the lead again. He scored twice before halftime and dished to Isaac Haas for an easy basket, propelling the Boilers to a 37-29 halftime lead. One large run notwithstanding, Minnesota shot just 39 percent in the half.

The second half began with the Boilers clearly looking to land a knockout punch. Purdue hit three 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the half and played at a frenetic pace on offense, pushing the ball up the floor on nearly every possession. The third 3 came was a left-wing shot from Vincent Edwards, his first field goal of the afternoon. The basket put Purdue ahead 50-36 and put Minnesota on the ropes early in the half.

After a Minnesota timeout, the Boilers put the game away. The final blow came from Dakota Mathias. The senior guard hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to extend the lead to 20 for the first time and added another one two minutes later to push the advantage to 25. Mackey Arena exploded and Minnesota never threatened again.

With four minutes left in the game, the four seniors exited the game together, getting an enormous and prolonged standing ovation from the crowd. The group got handshakes from Matt Painter and hugs from teammates as it sat down for the final time.

Player of the Game: Dakota Mathias

The senior guard, coming off a pair of 18-point performances, put together one of his best games of the season. He finished with a career-high-equaling 25 points on just 11 shots, shooting 9 for 11 from the field and 7 of 9 from beyond the arc. He also grabbed seven rebounds, giving him 15 in the last two games. On defense, he added two steals and blocked two shots. It was his fourth 20-point effort of the season and first since Dec. 1. 

Facts and Figures

Purdue finishes the season 16-1 at Mackey Arena, with the only loss coming by a single point against Ohio State. The victory is the 62nd home win for the senior class, the most for a single class in program history. ... The win is also the 100th in four years for this senior class, the fourth class in program history to reach that mark. ... Senior Vincent Edwards returned to the lineup after missing two games with an ankle injury. He played 25 minutes and scored 10 points. ... Carsen Edwards has scored in double figures in 14 straight games after 18 points against the Gophers. ... Purdue went 12 for 25 from beyond the arc, giving it 23 3s in the last two games. ... The win is the Boilers' first by double digits in 10 games. ... The Boilers outrebounded Minnesota 33-32, the second straight game they've outrebounded their opponent following 10 straight games of not doing so. ... Mason led Minnesota with 18 points. ... Gopher forward Jordan Murphy had 14 points and 10 rebounds, his 24th double-double, the most in the country.

What's Next?

With a double bye into the Big Ten Tournament's quarterfinals, Purdue will have to wait until Thursday night to find out who its opponent will be in its first game of the tournament. All it does know as the No. 3 seed is that it will play the final game on Friday night, starting close to 9 p.m.

dsinn@jg.net