No. 5 Purdue wins 13th in a row, 81-47 vs. Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Purdue’s star power forward Vincent Edwards has thoroughly enjoyed his visits to Minnesota.
His last trip was the best yet, as the Boilermakers took full advantage of the reeling Gophers.
Edwards scored 25 points in 29 minutes on 9-for-14 shooting for fifth-ranked Purdue, and the Boilermakers romped past undermanned Minnesota 81-47 on Saturday for their 13th consecutive victory.
“I love playing here. It’s like one of my favorite places to play in the Big Ten. I just always seem to find a good rhythm here,” said Edwards, who won two of his three games on the raised court and finished with 61 points in 99 minutes on 12-for-17 shooting from 3-point range in his career at Williams Arena.
Isaac Haas pitched in 14 points and five rebounds for Purdue (17-2, 6-0), which produced its best Big Ten start since going 8-0 to begin conference play in the 1989-90 season. This is the fourth 6-0 start in the Big Ten in Boilermakers history. They’re tied for the program’s best record at the 19-game overall mark since 1987-88.
Just as important in the performance by Edwards was his defense on Jordan Murphy, who finished with just 10 points and four rebounds for the Gophers. He went nearly 22 minutes without scoring after producing Minnesota’s first six points.
“We knew that if we could keep them off the glass, keep Murphy off the glass, then we were going to be in great shape,” Edwards said. “Just force them into a bunch of tough shots.”
The Gophers (13-6, 2-4) have lost all three games since center Reggie Lynch was suspended and small forward Amir Coffey was sidelined by a shoulder injury. This was the second-largest margin of defeat at home in program history, behind only a 90-51 loss to No. 1 UCLA on Dec. 20, 1968.
Purdue head coach Matt Painter sympathized with the Gophers, recalling the loss of Robbie Hummel to a knee injury eight years ago and how tough it was for that team to recover.
“It’s just different. You need some time to adjust,” Painter said.
Edwards had 20 points by the break and spent much of the second half resting on the bench with the game well in hand. He made four of his five 3-pointers before halftime, and the Boilermakers finished with 24 assists and just 11 turnovers after outscoring the Gophers 41-20 in the second half.
Carsen Edwards added 14 points and Dakota Mathias scored 12 points for the Boilermakers, who pulled out a 70-69 victory at Michigan on Tuesday night after a go-ahead free throw by Haas with 4 seconds remaining.
After a Thanksgiving weekend stumble in the Bahamas at the Battle 4 Atlantis when they lost by three points to Tennessee and four points to Western Kentucky, Edwards, who shot a combined 7 for 26 in those defeats, and the Boilermakers have bounced back strong.
They began this week with their highest ranking in The Associated Press poll since taking the No. 3 spot on Feb. 22, 2010, a week when they won at Minnesota on a Wednesday and then lost at Michigan State on a Sunday to drop to seventh in the following poll. Hummel was hurt in that game against the Gophers.
MURPHY TO BED
The Gophers registered their season-low shooting percentage (28.8) for the second straight game. They were outrebounded 46-29. Murphy, whose 17 consecutive double-doubles were the most in the country since Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan to start the 1996-97 season, has gone two straight games without one.
“It was huge,” Mathias said. “Obviously he’s one of the best players in the Big Ten, and the country.”
Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino was whistled for a technical foul 3:33 into the game. Already angered by an earlier offensive foul called on Murphy, Pitino erupted after Haas hit Gophers point guard Nate Mason in the throat without a whistle. Murphy had to hold Pitino back from charging onto the court.
Purdue: With a perfect record through one-third of the conference schedule and four seniors in their starting lineup, the Boilermakers have established themselves as the top contender for the Big Ten title with preseason favorite Michigan State. They only play the fourth-ranked Spartans once this season, a road game on Feb. 10, and now have a two-game lead on both Michigan State and Michigan. Ohio State, which plays at Rutgers on Sunday night, is 5-0 in league play.
“They’re playing with a great purpose,” Pitino said. “They coach themselves. Matt’s a terrific coach, but you can tell they’re coaching each other.”
Minnesota: A season that began with high hopes has swiftly spiraled out of control, a slump triggered by sexual assault allegations against the senior Lynch and the untimely injury to the sophomore Coffey. The top three backcourt players for the Gophers had an abysmal afternoon, with Mason, Dupree McBrayer and Isaiah Washington shooting a combined 6 for 29.
“Shots aren’t falling and games aren’t going our way,” Murphy said, “but we have to just keep our heads up.”
Purdue: Hosts Wisconsin on Tuesday, with the chance to match the program’s longest winning streak in eight years. The Boilermakers won their first 14 games of the 2009-10 season. The last victory of that streak was against the Gophers.
Minnesota: Plays at Penn State on Monday, the first of three straight games away from home. The Gophers gave up a home game for the Big Ten’s showcase event in New York on Jan. 20, when they take on Ohio State at Madison Square Garden.