Gophers get hot late, upset No. 24 Purdue

It wasn’t a conventional way for Minnesota to come back, but the threes were falling late to push the Gophers men’s basketball to a win.

Guard+Gabe+Kalscheur+brings+the+ball+up+the+court+at+Williams+Arena+on+Monday%2C+Dec.+2%2C+2019.

Nur B. Adam

Guard Gabe Kalscheur brings the ball up the court at Williams Arena on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019.

AJ Condon, Sports Reporter

The Gophers men’s basketball team found the perfect time to get hot from deep. To close out the game, Minnesota shot 4-of-5 from deep including two clutch threes from redshirt junior Marcus Carr. That was enough to complete the comeback and upset No. 24 Purdue 71-68.

After trailing the entire half, Carr banked a three to take the lead for the first time since it was 24-22, which turned out to be the game-winning shot. Right before that Carr hit a deep three to tie the game at 66.

“He hit some big time shots, it’s the one thing about Marcus, and all these guys, I want them to feel free to go make some plays,” Gophers’ head coach Richard Pitino said. “He called out bank, you guys couldn’t hear it, but he called out bank so [I’m] proud of him.”

Carr wasn’t alone in getting hot from deep, junior Gabe Kalscheur hit a season-high four 3-pointers, including three in the second half.

Kalscheur seemed to find his stroke for the time being and looked more like his freshman self Thursday. He came up big down the stretch, along with Carr, and knocked down two important threes late. Kalscheur also hit a pair of free throws at the end to extend the lead to three.

“It came down to the end of the game, clutch situations, Marcus makes a big shot, we get a good stop. We get the ball, I knock down the free throws and we get a really big stop at the end. It was a great, big team win,” Kalscheur said.

Carr led the team in scoring with 19, followed closely behind by Kalscheur with 16 and redshirt senior Brandon Johnson with 15 on 7-of-9 shooting. It wasn’t a pretty 40 minutes, and the hot shooting at the end didn’t fully erase the Gophers’ struggles from deep, but they showed signs of improvement at attacking the paint.

The Gophers made adjustments coming into this game to get the ball inside the paint more, and stay away from the deep ball. That worked for the first 10 minutes of the game, but eventually, the Gophers got back to their ways and it ultimately played out to their favor.

Minnesota came into the game making it clear it wanted to get the ball inside the paint. That worked to the team’s advantage. It led to 14 first half points coming from the paint from high-low passes to guards attacking the physical Purdue bigs. They opened up both halves getting a score inside with an assist coming from the other big.

After taking a seven-point lead 22-15, the Gophers went on a cold stretch and saw their lead slowly shrink. Amid a 15-2 run, the Gophers shot 1-for-9 from the field, including five three pointers. Minnesota surrendered its first half lead, in large part because Trevion Williams scored 13 straight points for the Boilermakers.

Freshman Jamal Mashburn Jr. had a surge of his own coming off the bench and provided a jumpstart to the offense. He scored three straight baskets for Minnesota and finished the first half with six points.

Last time out, Carr had just six points on 2-of-13 shooting in the 19-point loss to Purdue at the end of January. Though he ran into some similar problems shooting the ball in the first half, Carr led the team into the break with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting.

Though Williams shot 7-of-11 for 15 points in the first half, Gophers junior center Liam Robbins had some positives to take away from the half. The Big Ten leader in blocks had his way in the first half and sent back four shots and pulled down three offensive rebounds. Williams continued his dominance in the second half and finished with a game-high 24 points.

“Trevion Williams is really good, really good player, and he’s such a good passer,” Pitino said. “We put a little more pressure on him at the rim and we rebounded the ball, they’re just so physical and if you make a mistake, they’re gonna make you pay on the glass.”

Johnson had a very impressive game for Minnesota. He reached double-digits for the fourth straight game. Johnson was finding the soft spot in the paint when Robbins was doubled and went up strong to the hoop for the finish.

Johnson was a huge factor in both halves and was playing very physically. He was efficient in shooting and pulled down offensive boards which led to second chance points. He finished the game with 15 points and seven rebounds, including three on the offensive glass and was a big reason the Gophers got the revenge win.

“We definitely came into [today] with a different mentality. At Purdue, we started off good but later on, everything just faded and we wore down,” Johnson said. “The emphasis was, going into halftime, coach [Pitino] told us we’re not going to wear down. We just gotta keep doing what we’re doing, stay strong, regardless of what’s going on.”

Outside of the hot streak at the end, the Gophers struggled again from deep as they shot 7-of-24 from outside the arc. Kalscheur seemed to find his stroke for the time being and Carr had ice in his veins late, once again.

Minnesota picked up a huge win and finished off the quick homestand with back-to-back wins. The Gophers are back in action Feb. 14 as they travel to take on Maryland in another revenge game.