Feb. 11, 2021: The Minnesota Golden Gophers defeated the Purdue Boilermakers 71-68 at Williams Arena Thursday.
The Gophers were faced with a tough task Thursday against a pesky No. 24 ranked Purdue team, but luckily for them, the game was played at Williams Arena, a place where they’ve only lost one game this season. Purdue’s star big man Trevion Williams dominated in the first half, totaling 15 points. Minnesota was able to use a balanced offensive attack led by another great flurry of points from Jamaal Mashburn Jr., keeping the game close, trailing 32-30 at the half.
The second half seemed to be much of the same, as Purdue’s big man duo of Williams and Zach Edey continued to give Liam Robbins trouble in the post. Luckily for the Gophers, Gabe Kalschuer finally found his three-point shot, knocking down a season-high, four makes from beyond the arc. Marcus Carr took advantage of the extra offensive help and took over down the stretch with a handful of monster plays, ultimately giving Minnesota the victory 71-68.
What we learned:
If you look at the box score, it might seem like Liam Robbins is one of the best defenders in the Big Ten, as he puts up big block numbers every night. But tonight his less than stellar team defense showed up. Purdue’s big men out-muscled Robbins every way that you put it. If it were not for a questionable travel call down the stretch, Trevion Williams likely would’ve gone right through Robbins for two on three straight possessions down the stretch. Although the Gophers were able to overcome his struggles tonight, it will certainly have to be something to monitor going forward.
Gabe Kalschuer played lights out. His 5-10 shooting was the second time this season he finished a game shooting 50% or better, and he finished with a season-high four three-pointers. His great play offensively joined his usual lockdown defense for a terrific all-around performance. When he plays to the level he did today, the Gophers’ potential doubles.
Marcus Carr’s clutch play struck again. He has had some terrific games this season, where he has completely taken over down the stretch. Tonight was no different, as he decided that the Gophers were not going to lose and he made big plays down the stretch. When you have a so-called “closer” in college basketball it makes closing out close games that much easier.
Overall, today was the Gophers’ most complete game since they handed Michigan its first loss. Brandon Johnson gave some terrific minutes, and Jamaal Mashburn Jr. continues to only get better. If this team can just show a little life away from the Barn, Sweet-16 talk could possibly heat up again. Today showed that this team still has it in them to play like a top-15 team, but now they just need to show it.
What is next:
Thursday’s win gives Minnesota five wins over ranked opponents, bolstering its NCAA Tournament resume. It has four more games in February, three of which are against unranked opponents. The next month could give the Gophers serious momentum heading into post-season play in March.