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January 5, 2014
Audio: Matt Painter | Terone Johnson | Ronnie Johnson | A.J. Hammons
Purdue-Minnesota box score
Purdue's off to an 0-2 start in the Big Ten thanks largely to the red-hot three-point shooting Minnesota unleashed on the Boilermakers in frigid Minneapolis in Sunday's 82-79 win.
The Golden Gophers poured it on from long range, shooting 11-of-24, and built a lead that peaked at 19 in the second half.
Yet, when Malik Smith missed two free throws with four seconds left, the Boilermakers found themselves with a chance to tie at the buzzer.
Kendall Stephens' desperate heave from inside the midcourt line, though, fell well short.
The Boilermakers finished on an 18-6 run.
Purdue might not have needed such a comeback had the Gophers not gone off from three-point range.
"Today was a disappointment in that if you make tough shots when you're draped all over them, you just shake their hand," Purdue coach Matt Painter said, "but I thought they had too many open ones. Today wasn't a good day for us defending the perimeter."
Andre Hollins, Minnesota's leading scorer and the focal point, most likely, of Purdue's defensive scouting report, scored 17, 12 of them in the first half, off just one field goal attempt. But it namesake Austin Hollins who did the most damage, making four threes and finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds.
"They were getting a lot of open shots coming off screens," Purdue point guard Ronnie Johnson said. The defense we play, we stay in tight, so you have to get there on the catch. They knocked down some contested shots."
Minnesota separated itself in the final 5:15 of the first half, making four triples in that span, then burying six of its first eight after halftime.
"We did a poor job connecting to some of those shooters," Painter said. "We were trying to switch some things out and had poor switches where we didn't stay into them and we got behind some plays. They were able to shoot some rhythm threes. We have to do a better job of having discipline on the defensive end and not giving up such a clean look."
Deandre Mathieu's three at 11:55 put Minnesota up 60-41.
Purdue outscored the Gophers from there, 38-22, 18-6 in the final minutes.
"We just played harder the last couple minutes that we'd played, really, the rest of the game, especially defensively," said Terone Johnson, whose 18 points and four threes led the Boilermakers. "That's something you can't do, especially in the Big Ten."
Purdue traveled to the Twin Cities, where weather may now strand it, on an upswing, having won at West Virginia and competed closely with third-ranked Ohio State.
A key element in both showings was center A.J. Hammons, who was as anonymous at Minnesota as he was authoritative in prior games.
After grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds against Ohio State, Hammons got his hands on just one at Minnesota. He didn't block a shot, a rarity for one of college basketball's best in that category.
And on limited opportunities, he managed only seven points.
Painter said Minnesota center Elliott Eliason (eight points, seven rebounds, three blocks) "won the battle" down low.
"I was boxing out and everything and waiting for it to come to me and it didn't come to me," Hammons said of his rebounding. "He was out-hustling me a little bit."
Editor's Note: Mike Sprunger contributed to this report. Video courtesy of Chris Forman.
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