Seniors spark upset in final home game

Dominant performances from both expected and unexpected seniors propelled Minnesota to victory.

Senior Jordan Murphy spins towards the basket on Tuesday, March 5 at Williams Arena.

Tony Saunders

Senior Jordan Murphy spins towards the basket on Tuesday, March 5 at Williams Arena.

Paul Hodowanic

The night started with a standing ovation and ended with fans storming the court as the Gophers (19-11, 9-10) upset No. 11 Purdue (22-8, 15-4) 73-69 on senior night Tuesday. 

The emotion-packed evening started in the pregame festivities, as each senior was recognized and ended with each senior bidding farewell to Williams Arena and the Gophers fans. 

The team honored the five seniors: Jarvis Johnson, Dupree McBrayer, Jordan Murphy, Matz Stockman and Brock Stull, presenting each of them with framed jerseys and warm ovations.

“It’s a great feeling as a coach to see guys that you bring here get their due,” said head coach Richard Pitino. “To have a senior night where you have Dupree and Jordan, who stay for four years. They fight through adversity and then they have a court storming, to see the joy on their faces with their families there … that’s what it’s all about.”

The festivities didn’t stop there, as the seniors came to play. They led the team on both ends of the floor, combining for 36 points, 30 rebounds and eight blocks. 

Murphy ended the game like he has so many other times in his career — with a double-double. It was the 65th of his career, as he tallied 13 points and 14 rebounds. 

After the game, Pitino called for Murphy’s No. 3 to hang in the rafters with other Gopher greats like Kevin McHale and Mychal Thompson. 

“I wanted to wait until we got into the tournament, but I think we are in and he deserves to be up there,” Pitino said. “You got to reward what he has done statistically, the type of person that he is and he’s helped us win.” 

McBrayer finished with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. 

Stull saw an increase in minutes as Michael Hurt and Eric Curry were out with injuries and Gabe Kalscheur was in foul trouble. Stull responded, grabbing six rebounds and adding four points. 

The biggest surprise came from Stockman, who is in his first year with the Gophers after transferring from Louisville. The big man was thrust into a larger role with Curry out, and he made the most of the opportunity with nine points. He added a strong presence down low, blocking seven shots and collecting six rebounds. Pitino proclaimed him the “MVP” when speaking to fans on the floor after the game. 

Johnson, who never played a game for the Gophers due to a heart condition, suited up during warmups and was announced as the team’s sixth man pregame. 

“I wanted to do something for him,” Pitino said. “I almost put him in the end to be honest. I almost said, ‘Screw the doctors’ and put him in, but I didn’t do that. I didn’t want to get in trouble.”

After the game, with the crowd surrounding the team on the court, the five seniors each spoke about their time at Minnesota and offered salutes to teammates, coaches and the crowd.

“I really want to thank y’all, from the bottom of my heart,” McBrayer said to the crowd. “When my mom died, I just felt like quitting basketball. Y’all helped me get through that, this is one big family and I’m definitely going to miss it.”

The Gophers will hit the road for their final regular season game against Maryland Friday. After, the team will look to the start of the Big Ten Tournament on March 13 and try to solidify an NCAA Tournament berth.