The success Purdue coach Gene Keady has had over the Gophers men’s basketball team doesn’t come from a curse or hex he has placed over Minnesota coach Clem Haskins. At least that’s what he’d like everyone to believe.
No, he said, it’s much simpler than that.
“When we’ve had older kids we’ve whupped them and when he’s had older kids he’s whupped us,” Keady said. “It’s just one of those things.”
The older, more experienced Gophers whupped the younger Boilermakers 91-68 Saturday night at Williams Arena. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Boilermakers dating back to 1993. It also kept Minnesota in first place of the Big Ten, a title Purdue has won the last three years.
Usually the Boilermakers are the team with the experience edge. Last year they had six seniors while the Gophers built for the future.
This time the Gophers had the advantage. Purdue started three freshmen. The team only has one senior, Paul Gilvydis, who played in the game’s final minutes in mop-up duty.
But beating the Boilermakers is important to Minnesota, no matter if Purdue is young or old, with a superstar or not.
Haskins has said before that the Big Ten crown goes through Indiana and Purdue. Since he came to Minnesota 11 years ago those two teams have won the title eight of 10 years. He’s driven that point home to his players.
“Coach talks about that a lot,” Gophers guard Eric Harris said. “Indiana and Purdue, they’ve got so many Big Ten championships, so we know in order for us to get a Big Ten championship we’ve got to beat teams like them.”
Minnesota is perfect so far. It beat Indiana in overtime earlier this month. The Gophers play at Purdue in two weeks and host Indiana in March.
Both will be a test, especially the game in Mackey Arena. Haskins is 5-17 against Purdue and has never won at Mackey.
“Of all the guys I’ve coached against, he is the toughest guy for me to beat,” Haskins said of Keady. “I think the record would indicate that. His teams are always so well organized and they play so hard against us.”
Just like Minnesota did against Iowa last Thursday, it used relentless defense to stop its opponents’ leading scorer. Against Iowa, Harris and Gophers guard Bobby Jackson slowed down Andre Woolridge. Saturday, Gophers center John Thomas shut down the Boilermakers’ Brad Miller.
Miller entered the contest leading his team in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game. Against Thomas and Trevor Winter, Miller managed only two shots and finished the game with six points.
Thomas had his way with Miller, who complained early to the officials of the Gophers’ physical play, much like Iowa coach Tom Davis did after his team lost Thursday.
Keady also complained. He drew a technical foul with 13:27 left in the first half after arguing a call. In Haskins-like fashion, Keady threw off his coat and scowled at the officials. It wouldn’t be the last time Keady threw his arms up in disgust. Altogether 54 fouls were called on both teams, 29 of them against Purdue. And his top scorer, Miller, fouled out with 2:53 left in the game.
Haskins said Keady’s technical gave his team a boost. At the time Minnesota led 13-11. The Gophers then went on a 8-2 run to build a 21-13 lead.
The rout went on from there and all the disappointment of those last seven games oozed out.
“It was a lot of frustration when somebody can come into your house each year and beat you,” Thomas said. “And then you go into their place and they beat you there, too. That’s really tough to deal with. I think this year we were mentally ready and we came out on top.”
Jackson led Minnesota with 20 points and eight rebounds. Sam Jacobson and Harris had 17 points each.
The Gophers have the week off before going to Northwestern on Saturday. The time will give players a few days to heal after being bothered by injuries the past week: Harris (hip-pointer), Jackson (hip-pointer), Jacobson (knee) and Charles Thomas (back). None of the injuries seemed to bother the players Saturday.
SATURDAY’S SUMMARYPurdue 32 36 — 68No. 8 Gophers 43 48 — 91
Purdue–Robinson 3-8 0-1 6, Cardinal 4-7 6-8 14, Miller 1-2 4-4 6, Austin 11-18 4-4 30, Cornell 2-4 0-3 4, Eldridge 0-3 0-2 0, McQuay 3-6 0-2 7, Ten Dam 0-0 1-2 1, Gilvydis 0-1 0-0 0, Barnes 0-0 0-0 0, Kerkhof 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-49 15-26 68.
Gophers–James 3-4 1-2 7, Jacobson 6-14 3-3 17, J.Thomas 3-5 5-10 11, Jackson 7-11 6-6 20, Harris 3-5 10-12 17, Winter 0-1 2-2 2, Lewis 3-9 0-0 6, C.Thomas 3-6 2-2 8, Archambault 0-1 0-0 0, Tarver 1-2 1-2 3, Ja. Stanford 0-1 0-0 0, Je. Stanford 0-1 0-0 0, Stauber 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-61 30-39 91.
3-Point goals–Purdue 5-18 (Austin 4-8, McQuay 1-2, Eldridge 0-1, Gilvydis 0-1, Robinson 0-2, Cardinal 0-2, Cornell 0-2), Minnesota 3-13 (Jacobson 2-6, Harris 1-1, Jackson 0-1, C.Thomas 0-1, Ja.Stanford 0-1, Lewis 0-3). Fouled Out–Cornell, Miller. Rebounds–Purdue 26 (Cardinal, Miller 6), Minnesota 41 (Jackson 8). Assists–Purdue 16 (Cardinal 5), Minnesota 12 (Jackson 5). Total fouls–Purdue 29, Minnesota 25. Technicals–Purdue coach Keady, Cornell. A–14,425.