Minnesota can’t handle hot-shooting Purdue

The Boilermakers made 10 three-pointers in the first half and held a double-digit lead for most of the game.

Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe sits on the bench during a game against Purdue on Sunday night at Williams Arena. Mbakwe ended his season early due to an ACL injury.

Gophers’ forward Trevor Mbakwe sits on the bench during a game against Purdue on Sunday night at Williams Arena. Mbakwe ended his season early due to an ACL injury.

Charlie Armitz

Four straight losses to open the conference season. Ten straight conference losses dating back to last year. An ACL injury to end the season of star forward and senior leader Trevor Mbakwe.

It’s no wonder the Gophers men’s basketball team seemed discouraged after Sunday’s 79-66 loss to Purdue at Williams Arena.

“Everybody’s seen how last year ended, and it’s kind of looking like it’s going down that same road this year,” junior Rodney Williams said.

Williams led Minnesota with 19 points and a season-high 14 rebounds, but his effort wasn’t nearly enough. Propelled by its 3-point shooting, Purdue took a 47-32 lead into halftime and led by double digits for most of the second half.

The Boilermakers shot 10-for-12 from beyond the arc in the first half, and finished 10-for-15.

“I don’t know that i’ve coached against a team that was any hotter than Purdue was today,” head coach Tubby Smith said. “There were times that we were near them, and D.J. Byrd and Robbie Hummel just lit us up.”

Byrd scored 18 points on 5-for-6 shooting from 3-point range. Hummel had 13 points and was 2-for-4 from deep.

Lewis Jackson led the Boilermakers with 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting.

Purdue shot 55 percent in total (30-for-55), while Minnesota shot 41 percent (24-for-58) — 31 percent in the second half (11-for-35).

“We took a lot of jump shots — a lot of forced jump shots,” Williams said. “I think having another big man in there would have helped.”

Minnesota’s top-scoring big man — senior Ralph Sampson III — had two points on 1-for-3 shooting, three rebounds and two turnovers in 13 minutes. His backup, redshirt freshman Elliott Eliason, had zero points and zero rebounds in eight minutes.

“When [Purdue goes] with the small lineup, it’s hard to play with our big guys,” Smith said. “That’s why we tried to go with [forward] Andre Ingram — he’s quicker than both Elliott and Ralph. It’s hard for Ralph to play in that type of game.”

Ingram finished with three points and one rebound in nine minutes.

Freshman Joe Coleman provided a spark in his first start with Minnesota, posting career highs in points (14), rebounds (6) and steals (3).

“I thought Joe Coleman played with unbelievable energy,” Smith said.

Yet Smith admitted his team was discouraged after a first half in which it built a 15-point deficit despite shooting 56 percent. He said the feeling was similar after the game, which dropped the Gophers’ Big Ten record to 0-4 (12-5 overall).

Purdue improved to 2-1 and looked like a different team than the one that lost by 20 points at Penn State on Thursday.