Second Half Surge Lifts Purdue over Minnesota
Minnesota and Purdue came into their game Saturday night well rested, as neither team had played a game in a week. The Boilermakers played a second straight game without sharpshooter and second leading scorer Sasha Stefanovic, who was out with Covid. The Golden Gophers, who are last in the Big Ten in three point shooting, made six of its first eight three pointers to jump out to a 24-10 lead midway through the first half. However, Purdue was able to narrow the deficit to 35-30 at half behind Trevion Williams’ eight points and nine rebounds in the half. The Boilermakers started the second half on a 23-6 run, behind seven points apiece from Brandon Newman and Jaden Ivey, and took a 53-41 lead midway through the second half. Minnesota made a run to cut the lead to 59-52 with 6:20 left, but could get no closer as the Boilers won going away 81-62.
- The slow starts continue: It doesn’t seem to matter the opponent or the venue as Purdue got off to another slow start and fell behind by double digits in the first half against Minnesota. This was the seventh time in eleven conference games that Purdue has fallen behind by double digits. Much like earlier games against Michigan St. and Ohio St., the Boilermakers used a big second half to come from behind and win. “The speech I give at halftime I should probably give before the game,” Coach Matt Painter joked. You would think that Purdue could not continue this trend of slow starts and still be successful.
- The future is bright: Purdue’s freshmen continue to shine. Zach Edey, Mason Gillis, Brandon Newman, and Jaden Ivey have each won Freshman of the Week honors in the Big Ten, and the freshmen played big roles in Purdue’s game deciding second half surge. Gillis had six points, Newman had ten points, and Ivey had seven points as the Boilers started the second half on a 29-10 run. Newman finished the game with a career high 29 points, including 21 in the deciding second half. “He was very special,” Williams said of Newman tonight. “He puts in a lot of work and is always shooting.” Gillis continues to have a knack for being in the right place, finishing with eleven points and nine rebounds. As a testament to how much these guys want to win, Newman and Ivey were both on the court shooting after the game.
- Eric Hunter, Jr. was invaluable tonight: It may not show in the stat sheet, but junior point guard Eric Hunter, Jr. may have been the most important player on the floor tonight. He only scored four points, but he was on the court a team high 38 minutes and had seven assists with just two turnovers. However, his defense on Minnesota’s leading scorer, Marcus Carr, was a difference maker. Carr came into the game averaging 20 points per game, but Hunter held him to just six points on 2-13 shooting. “Eric Hunter had one of his best games since he’s been here,” Painter said. “He affected the game in so many ways.”