Pitino rallies Gophers to victory

The head coach fired up his team on Saturday afternoon, pushing them to a 62-58 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers.

Minnesota Head Coach Richard Pitino celebrates after the Gophers caused Purdue to turn over the ball in the second half at Williams Arena on Saturday. Minnesota beat Purdue 62-58.

Holly Peterson

Minnesota Head Coach Richard Pitino celebrates after the Gophers caused Purdue to turn over the ball in the second half at Williams Arena on Saturday. Minnesota beat Purdue 62-58.

Jack Satzinger

In the first half of Minnesota’s game against Purdue on Saturday, Richard Pitino felt a little too hot, so he took off his suit jacket.

When the Gophers head coach emerged from the locker room at halftime with his team down 31-27, his tie was gone, too.

With the top button of his powder blue dress shirt unclasped, an animated Pitino willed his players to a 14-0 run to open the second period in an eventual 62-58 victory.

“Our guys needed energy. I didn’t think they were playing with great enthusiasm in the first half. I thought they needed to feed off me,” Pitino said. “It also was so hot in there I figured I might as well get a workout in and sweat a little bit.”

The streak began with a Carlos Morris steal and subsequently made free throws, followed by an Andre Hollins layup to knot the score at 31.

Pitino then clapped his hands, bent his knees and screamed at his players, imploring them to press.

With the full-court pressure came another Morris steal — and then another.

“He just came and took the ball from us,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said.

After Hollins hit a 3-pointer to stretch Minnesota’s lead to six, he tipped a Boilermakers pass.

Pitino hopped as the ball floated in the air, watching wide-eyed as it spun into Hollins’ hands before he found Mo Walker for a layup.

As Purdue inbounded the ball on the next possession, Pitino repeatedly raised his hands, telling the crowd to get louder.

Seconds later, the 13,041 fans at Williams Arena made plenty of noise.

 DeAndre Mathieu stole the ball and dished it to Morris for a layup that gave Minnesota a 10-point advantage.

As the ball found the bottom of the net, Pitino sprinted toward the baseline, screaming and pumping his fist while Minnesota (15-9, 4-7 Big Ten) capped off a run that powered a much-needed victory.

“The intensity felt like one of those nonconference games where we were getting after guys, getting steals. We really turned up the intensity,” Mathieu said.

The Gophers forced Purdue (15-9, 7-4 Big Ten) to turn the ball over 23 times, but had their lead — once as high as 15 points — cut to two with 1:01 remaining.

The Boilermakers hit a few of what Pitino called “ridiculous” 3-pointers to trim the deficit.

“We threw up a couple threes that didn’t deserve to go in there that made the game close. To be in a position to win after the way we played, to tie the game or win the game, was kind of a little surreal,” Painter said.

Mathieu was sent to the free-throw line with 23 seconds left, but he missed the foul shot to keep the lead at two points.

It looked like Minnesota might falter down the stretch again, but Walker blocked a Vince Edwards layup, Hollins got the rebound, was fouled and then sunk two free throws to ice the game.

“I want to be in situations like that,” said Hollins, who scored a game-high 18 points. “I just think it’s me, the ball and the hoop.”

After losing multiple conference games in the final minutes, the Gophers nearly blew another one Saturday. But they did enough early in the second half behind the intensity of their head coach to stave off Purdue.

“I thought the beginning of the second half was about as good of pressure as we’ve ever had,” Pitino said. “That set the tone more than anything.”

After Hollins hit a 3-pointer to stretch Minnesota’s lead to six, he tipped a Boilermakers pass.

Pitino hopped as the ball floated in the air, watching wide-eyed as it spun into Hollins’ hands before he found Mo Walker for a
layup.

As Purdue inbounded the ball on the next possession, Pitino repeatedly raised his hands, telling the crowd to get louder.

Seconds later, the 13,041 fans at Williams Arena made plenty of noise.

 DeAndre Mathieu stole the ball and dished it to Morris for a layup that gave Minnesota a 10-point advantage.

As the ball found the bottom of the net, Pitino sprinted toward the baseline, screaming and pumping his fist while Minnesota (15-9, 4-7 Big Ten) capped off a run that powered a much-needed victory.

“The intensity felt like one of those nonconference games where we were getting after guys, getting steals. We really turned up the intensity,” Mathieu said.

The Gophers forced Purdue (15-9, 7-4 Big Ten) to turn the ball over 23 times, but had their lead — once as high as 15 points — cut to two with 1:01 remaining.

The Boilermakers hit a few of what Pitino called “ridiculous” 3-pointers to trim the deficit.

“We threw up a couple threes that didn’t deserve to go in there that made the game close. To be in a position to win after the way we played, to tie the game or win the game, was kind of a little surreal,” Painter said.

Mathieu was sent to the free-throw line with 23 seconds left, but he missed the foul shot to keep the lead at two points.

It looked like Minnesota might falter down the stretch again, but Walker blocked a Vince Edwards layup, and Hollins got the rebound, was fouled and then sunk two free throws to ice the game.

“I want to be in situations like that,” said Hollins, who scored a game-high 18 points. “I just think it’s me, the ball and the hoop.”

After losing multiple conference games in the final minutes, the Gophers nearly blew another one Saturday. But they did enough early in the second half behind the intensity of their head coach to stave off Purdue.

“I thought the beginning of the second half was about as good of pressure as we’ve ever had,” Pitino said. “That set the tone more than anything.”