Turnovers trip up U at Purdue, 54-42

by Michael Dougherty

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The best basketball team on the floor during Purdue’s 54-42 win over the Gophers Tuesday night was probably the top-ranked Purdue women’s team, which accepted its Big Ten title trophy at halftime.
Otherwise, the No. 23 Boilermakers (19-8 overall, 7-7 in the Big Ten) and Minnesota (15-9, 6-8) looked like two teams who were fighting for an invitation to the NIT instead of the Big Dance. The only thing left to watch was if the Gophers could hold the basketball Boilermakers to fewer points than the football team did in its 56-21 loss to Purdue in October.
The 42 points for Minnesota was its lowest total ever under Haskins. The last time the Gophers scored fewer points was in a 53-41 loss to Illinois back in 1984.
Purdue used some stifling man-to-man defense to force 14 turnovers in the first half and 25 for the game. Guard Alan Eldridge held the Gophers’ Quincy Lewis to 13 points, his lowest total since he scored seven against Michigan State last March.
“I just tried to deny him the ball, and I knew if I could limit his touches we could shut them down,” Eldridge said of Lewis. “It was a big defensive effort by our whole team.”
Purdue coach Gene Keady said his team played with some passion for the first time in a while. He said his team turned in a “gutsy” performance on the defensive end, getting a season-high 15 steals.
But the play of Eldridge against Lewis is what really impressed Keady.
“Alan Eldridge did an excellent job on Quincy tonight,” Keady said. “For his efforts he received the game ball. He shut him down and just did a really good job.”
The Boilermakers took the game over after Lewis scored on a break-away dunk with 7:05 left in the first half to give Minnesota a 19-12 lead. Forward Brian Cardinal scored 11 points as Purdue outscored the Gophers 21-2 the rest of the half.
Although Cardinal didn’t score in the second half, he had seven rebounds and four steals. He also neutralized Przybilla on the offensive end, holding the freshman to four points. Haskins called Cardinal the difference in the ball game.
But, ultimately, it was the 16-point burst in the final 3:26 which enabled Purdue to head to the locker room with a 33-21 lead that turned out to be the difference in the game.
The 21 first-half points were the fewest the Gophers have scored since last January’s 65-57 loss at Michigan (15). That was the game after which Miles Tarver received a gag order from Haskins because he said the team was sinking like the Titanic.
Tarver played only 21 minutes because of some physical problems that had kept him out of practice for the last three days. Tarver finished with seven rebounds and two points.
Guard Kevin Clark was the only other Gopher to score in double figures with 10 points. He said Haskins told the team that Eldridge was going to be guarding Lewis tight, but Lewis had a hard time shaking the 6-foot-1 Eldridge.
Clark, however, refused to give Purdue the credit for the low point total and the most turnovers the Gophers have had in more than two years.
“It wasn’t the defense, we just turned the ball over,” Clark said. “It was bad passing.”
No, it was bad everything, which Haskins confirmed after the game.
“It was an ugly basketball game,” Haskins said. “It is not the way a game should be played at this level. We had too many turnovers and we need to play better on Thursday.”
The two teams meet again Thursday at Williams Arena in a game that will be televised on ESPN.
Perhaps neither team wanted to show its hand because of the back-to-back games. But regardless of the reasons for the sloppy play, if the two teams play this poorly again they both might be do the two-step to Madison Square Garden for the NIT final instead of heading off to the NCAA tournament.

Purdue 33 21 — 54
Minnesota 21 21 — 42

Minnesota (42)
Lewis 5-12 3-4 13, Tarver 1-2 0-2 2, Przybilla 2-3 0-0 4, Clark 4-11 1-2 10, Simmons 0-2 0-0 0, Ohnstad 2-5 0-0 4, Nathaniel 1-3 0-0 2, Stanford 0-0 0-0 0, Broxsie 0-0 0-0 0, Rychart 2-4 1-2 5, Sanden 1-3 0-1 2. Totals 18-45 5-11 42. Rebounds 37 (Przybilla, Tarver, Rychart 7) Assists 13 (Przybilla, Tarver, Ohnstad, Nathaniel 2) Blocks 3 (Przybilla 2) Turnovers 25 (Nathaniel 5).

Purdue (54)
Cardinal 4-8 5-6 15, McQuay Greg 2-5 2-8 6, Eldridge 4-9 1-2 9, Cornell 4-15 2-2 12, Cunningham 3-8 0-2 7, McQuay Gary 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis 1-3 0-0 2, Mayfield 1-2 0-0 3, Stephens 0-0 0-0 0, Robinson 0-2 0-0 0, Allison 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-52 10-20 54. Rebounds 30 (Cardinal 7) Assists 9 (Eldridge 3) Blocks 4 (Cardinal 2) Turnovers 15 (Cunningham 6).