With a full week on the road coming up, the undermanned Golden Gophers were looking for a pick-me-up with the No. 5 Purdue Boilermakers coming to town.
Instead, any hope of an upset was dashed early as an 81-47 blowout loss became Minnesota’s worst Big Ten home defeat in program history.
The Boilermakers led by double digits the entire second half and were able to sit their starters at the end, which was the only thing that prevented star senior Vincent Edwards, who scored 20 in the first half, from getting a career high in points. His 25-point performance left him one point shy of his high-water mark.
Minnesota, for the second straight game, set a season-low in field-goal percentage (28.8 percent) and was outrebounded by 17 (46-29).
The Gophers are 0-3 since losing Reggie Lynch to suspension and Amir Coffey to injury.
“It’s hard,” said Pitino, “because we’re such a totally different team. I feel like we need months of practice to get better, almost like two years ago when we were kind of restarting.”
Two years ago the Gophers went 8-23 and notably lost by 25 points to Northwestern on their home floor. Saturday’s performance was worse than that as a handful of boos were heard in the second half and fans filed out of Williams Arena early.
The only worse home loss in Gophers history came in 1968 against John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins.
“Certainly, we’re overmatched right now,” said Pitino.
After holding a brief 11-9 lead in the first half, the Gophers watched Purdue go on a 15-0 tear that put it up 24-11. They extended the lead to as many as 20 points at 40-20 before Minnesota closed the first half on a 7-0 run and opened the second half with Isaiah Washington’s three free throws to make it 40-30.
That’s as close as Minnesota would get as the Boilermakers followed with a 16-2 run.
Purdue stroked 14 3-pointers in 35 attempts, outscoring Minnesota by 30 points from beyond the arc as the Gophers went just 4 of 21.
After starting the season with 17 straight double-doubles, Jordan Murphy was held without one for the second straight game, notching 10 points and four rebounds.
Without Lynch to clear players out of the lane, Murphy has had a harder time rebounding.
“We’re not blocking out certain guys as well as we may have been before with Amir and other guys,” said Pitino, “so our block-outs were not great. We’re trying to work on that.”
Minnesota got a team-high 11 points from freshman Isaiah Washington, who shot 3 of 13. Between Washington, Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer, Gophers guards finished 6 of 29 from the floor.
Without Lynch to stabilize the post and teams selling out against Murphy, the Gophers can ill afford to have struggling guards moving forward.
Stats to Think About
- Nate Mason finished the game with eight points, three rebounds and one assist, a far cry from his marvelous performance in Minnesota’s victory at Purdue last year when he had 31 points, six rebounds and 11 assists.
- Isaiah Washington has made multiple 3-point shots in consecutive games for the first time this season. He is still shooting just 18 percent from 3-point range.
- The Gophers have lost consecutive games by 20-plus points since the final two games of the 2015-16 season.
Minnesota now must prepare for a busy week on the road as they face Penn State on Monday, Maryland on Thursday and Ohio State at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.