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Rickert scores game-high 25 points for Gophers

2/8/2003

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The intensity Purdue rode during its rise to
first place in the first half of the Big Ten season wasn't anywhere
to be found Saturday.

Minnesota was hoarding it all.

Rick Rickert scored 26 points and Michael Bauer added 17 to lead
the Golden Gophers past the (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) Boilermakers 90-68.

"I didn't see that coming,'' Minnesota coach Dan Monson said.
"With the circumstances of needing a win where we're at in our
season, this by far was the most important game of the year for
us.''

Purdue's four-game winning streak ended, and their first
appearance in the Top 25 since March 2000 might be over, too.

"I just wonder, 'Why are we not motivated every game?''' Purdue
coach Gene Keady said. "Our guys have got to be better warriors.''

The Gophers (13-7, 5-4), a starkly different team at home than
they are on the road, beat the conference's first-place team for
the second consecutive Saturday. They knocked Michigan out of the
top spot last weekend with an 87-80 victory at Williams Arena,
where they're 12-2 this season.

After a crucial loss at Ohio State on Wednesday, Monson made
sure the Gophers were ready.

"It's not who you play,'' Keady said, "it's when you play
them.''

Willie Deane had 15 points and David Teague added 12 for the
Boilermakers (15-5, 7-2), looking for their first NCAA Tournament
bid in three years. They were 13-18 last year in Keady's worst of 23 seasons at the school.

Gophers guard Moe Hargrow led a strong defensive effort on
Deane, holding the Big Ten's third-leading scorer to two first-half
points.

"They did a real good job denying Will the ball,'' Teague said.
"They always had somebody on him every time he caught it.''

The top two scoring teams in the conference, in their only
meeting this year, had a hard time establishing any early offense --
but the Boilermakers struggled the most.

Minnesota, taking a page from Purdue's gameplan, used tough,
physical man-to-man defense to force the Boilermakers into 13
first-half turnovers. The Gophers finished with nine steals and
nine blocked shots and held Purdue to one field goal and seven
turnovers in the first seven minutes.

"It wasn't just about their energy,'' Keady said. "It was
about our passing decisions, too.''

Though still plagued occasionally by poor passing on the
perimeter and a tendency to settle for 3-point shots instead of
using their height advantage inside, the Gophers' shot selection
was much better than it was Wednesday at Ohio State, when they set
a school record for 3-point attempts with 36.

The Boilermakers turned a 10-3 deficit into a 16-all tie, but
the Gophers finished the last six minutes of the half with a 22-9
run.

"They shoved us pretty good,'' Monson said, "but we shoved
them for 20'' minutes.

Bauer, who had a superb all-around game, was in the middle of it
all. The junior forward, by far Minnesota's most energetic player,
blocked Chris Booker's shot twice on the same possession, fed Ben
Johnson for a pair of layups and Jerry Holman for a dunk during
that stretch.

Johnson had 15 points and Holman added 12.

The Gophers, who came in averaging a Big Ten-best 76.4 points
per game, are 11-1 when leading at halftime and were charged up
coming out of the break after limiting Purdue to a season-low 25
points in the first half.

After a 3-pointer by Rickert, Bauer turned a steal into a long
pass to Hargrow for a fast-break dunk and a 48-30 lead with 16:24
left.

Minnesota pulled ahead by 22, on a 3-pointer by Bauer that made
it 54-32, before briefly losing its focus and letting Purdue back
in the game with a 12-2 run.

But Bauer, again, helped spark his team. He found Rickert for
consecutive baskets sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Teague. Bauer
followed with a 3-pointer to bump the lead to 62-47 near the
midpoint of the second half.

"I know we have that in us,'' Bauer said. "We've been showing
it in parts of this year. Our aggressiveness just carried us
over.''