Live Blog: Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament: Gophers v. No. 6 Purdue

Marco LaNave

Final – Now with back-to-back wins over top-15 opponents, the Gophers will play in their first Big Ten championship tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. against top-seeded Ohio State. GOPHERS 69, PURDUE 42.

6:21 2nd – The stands are beginning to thin, as the Gophers look to be in position for the most lopsided win so far in this year’s tournament. GOPHERS 58, PURDUE 31.

10:39 2nd – The Gophers responded to an 11-2 Purdue run by scoring the last seven points, including four by Joseph, who has eight in the game. Moore has returned to the game for the Boilermakers. GOPHERS 48, PURDUE 22.

13:23 2nd – Moore walked off the court in the first two minutes of the half, grabbing his left ankle, and he hasn’t yet returned. For a Purdue team assured of a high tournament seed and already playing without All-Big Ten forward Robbie Hummel, it likely wouldn’t be worthwhile to bring Moore back into the game. JaJuan Johnson has scored eight points for Purdue in the half. GOPHERS 41, PURDUE 22.

15:26 2nd – The Boilermakers have gotten four points from JaJuan Johnson and scored six of the first eight points overall. The Purdue supporters are trying to will cheer their team back into it. GOPHERS 39, PURDUE 17.

Halftime – JaJuan Johnson made a hook shot at the buzzer to improve Purdue’s shooting percentage to 18.5 percent for the half. The point total was still the lowest for the Boilermakers in a half since 1950. The previous low (13) came against the Gophers in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 1982. GOPHERS 37, PURDUE 11.

4:33 1st – Freshman guard Justin Cobbs just made a shot in the paint over JaJuan Johnson to extend a 17-0 Minnesota run. The Gophers are probably the only ones who aren’t stunned by this start (they might even be, too). GOPHERS 26, PURDUE 4.

7:27 1st – The Gophers have gone on a 10-0 run as Purdue hasn’t made a field goal in nearly seven minutes. Moore has missed his first eight shots, and Purdue has made just 2-of-18 field goals. Minnesota has a 15-5 rebounding advantage. Sampson has hit two jumpers in the last two minutes and has a game-high six points. GOPHERS 19, PURDUE 4.

10:13 1st – Purdue called a timeout after the Gophers scored two consecutive baskets in the paint. Johnson took an offensive rebound for a layup, and Sampson just lobbed to Iverson, who fought to toss it in over JaJuan Johnson. GOPHERS 13, PURDUE 4.

11:58 1st – Neither team has made a field goal for nearly four minutes. GOPHERS 9, PURDUE 4.

15:55 1st – Damian Johnson came up limping after a rebound scramble a moment ago and grimaced as he went to the bench to have his right leg examined. He left the floor but returned during the timeout. Sampson, Westbrook, Hoffarber and Joseph each have a basket for Minnesota. GOPHERS 9, PURDUE 2.

INDIANAPOLIS – Now that Ohio State has escaped to the title game with an 88-81 double-overtime win over fifth-seeded Illinois, the Gophers should tip with the Boilermakers around 3:35 p.m. Central Time.

Last night’s win over third-seeded Michigan State gave the Gophers a win over an opponent that beat them by one point at Williams Arena earlier this season. Second-seeded Purdue is another one of those opponents, overcoming a nine-point second-half deficit to defeat Minnesota 59-58 in Minneapolis Feb. 24.

Gophers sophomore center Ralph Sampson III scored a career-high 21 points and had seven rebounds in that game, and he was a big key to holding Purdue center JaJuan Johnson to 14 points. Johnson scored 22 points for the Boilermakers in their quarterfinal win over Northwestern, while Sampson went scoreless with two rebounds last night against Michigan State. Senior forward Damian Johnson (eight points, four rebounds, two blocks against the Spartans) and sophomore center Colton Iverson (12 points, four rebounds, two blocks) should be able to help, but Sampson’s play could be tipping point.

Purdue doesn’t have All-Big Ten forward Robbie Hummel but still has All-Big Ten guard E’Twaun Moore, who scored a game-high 28 points in yesterday’s quarterfinals.

Gophers senior guard Lawrence Westbrook and the Gophers defense have done a good job against Penn State’s Talor Battle and Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas,

but Moore will be just as much of a challenge, if not more.

Starting Lineups:

Minnesota Gophers (20-12, 9-9 Big Ten)

F Sr. Damian Johnson (10.2 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, 2.3 assists per game)</ br> C So. Ralph Sampson III (8.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.9 apg)</ br> G Sr. Lawrence Westbrook (12.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.1 apg)</ br> G Jr. Blake Hoffarber (10.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.8 apg)</ br> G So. Devoe Joseph (9.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.0 apg)

Purdue Boilermakers (27-4, 14-4 Big Ten)

C Jr. JaJuan Johnson (15.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.7 apg)</ br>

G Sr. Keaton Grant (6.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.8 apg)</ br>

G Sr. Chris Kramer (6.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.4 apg)</ br>

G So. Lewis Jackson (2.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.1 apg)</ br>

G Jr. E’Twaun Moore (17.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.8 apg)