teMinnesota, posted a gritty second half effort to pull away from seventh-seeded Purdue 63-52 this afternoon in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. The Gophers, the 10th-seeded team in the tournament, shot just 29 percent from the field but made up for it with a 22-of-25 performance from the free throw line. Minnesota advances to face second-seeded Wisconsin tomorrow evening at 5:40 CST.
Minnesota, who improved to 12-17, outscored Purdue (17-13) by 11 in the second half and made eight straight free throws to end the game and seal the victory.
Purdue came out from halftime and opened its largest lead of the game at 24-19 on a David Teague trey but the Gophers managed an immediate 9-0 run capped by an Adam Boone basket at 15:40 to lead 28-24. Minnesota's lead grew to 39-31 on four straight points by Kris Humphries with 8:27 remaining.
Teague scored seven straight points for the Boilermakers to trim Minnesota's lead to five at 43-38 but Humphries followed with a fast break basket off a full court pass from Boone and was fouled. Humphries made the free throw to put the Gophers up 46-38 with 6:35 left. Ivan Kartelo tightened it back to three with a three-point play but Michael Bauer hit a trey on the ensuing possession to pump the lead back to eight at 49-41. After Teague hit a three, Bauer fired right back with another three with 3:32 left to hold the lead at eight points. Brandon McKnight scored four straight points to pull Purdue to 55-48 with 1:15 remaining but Boone made six straight free throws and Ben Johnson made two more to seal the win.
The first half saw dreadful shooting performances from both teams. Minnesota shot 22 percent from the field but grabbed 12 offensive rebounds to stay alive. Purdue fired just 34 percent from the field. Minnesota opened a 14-6 lead on a Jeff Hagen putback of a Bauer missed three-pointer. The Gophers then led 18-12 on a Johnson basket with 4:30 left in the half but Purdue went on a 7-0 run to take a 19-18 edge with 2:25 remaining. Humphries made 1-of-2 free throws with 45 seconds to knot the score at 19-19 at halftime.
Humphries led Minnesota with 20 points despite shooting just 4-of-20 from the field. He did made 11of-13 from the line and tied a career-high with 15 rebounds. Bauer scored 16 points that included four three-pointers and Boone added 13.
Teague and McKnight scored 16 points apiece to lead the Boilermakers.