2:30 PM ET, March 11, 2004
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota coach Dan Monson said his Gophers got pushed around in their two losses to Purdue this season.At their coach's begging, the Gophers played the part of the bully in the first round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday.Kris Humphries overcame poor shooting with 20 points and 15 rebounds, leading Minnesota to a 63-52 victory over Purdue."The first two times we played them, we got backed down physically," Monson said. "That's how they beat people."Minnesota (12-17) shot 28 percent from the field, but were the aggressors from the start, leading to a big advantage at the free throw line. That allowed the Gophers to advance to the next round against No. 10 Wisconsin on Friday.Humphries again struggled from the floor against the Boilermakers (17-13). Purdue forward Brett Buscher blocked four of his shots and forced the Big Ten freshman of the year into 4-for-21 shooting.It was nothing new for Purdue, which held Humphries to a combined 10-for-31 in its two wins over the Gophers in the regular season.This time, however, Humphries was able to overcome it by hitting 11-of-13 free throws. He took the ball right at the Boilermakers, not backing down against the physical Purdue front. The Gophers were 22-for-25 from the foul line while Purdue was just 5-for-10."They're a physical team that's given me a lot problems in the past, but I just kept my composure today," Humphries said.Michael Bauer added 16 points for the 10th-seeded Gophers, including two big 3-pointers in the second half that kept the seventh-seeded Boilermakers at a safe distance. The second gave Minnesota a 52-44 lead with 3:33 to play.It was not how the Boilermakers envisioned ending the Big Ten season. They looked uninterested for most of the game and lost the fourth time in a row.Now the team that started the Big Ten season 5-1 is just hoping to get invited to the NIT."We just didn't play with heart and pay attention to detail," said Purdue guard Brandon McKnight, who had 16 points and six rebounds. "It all boiled down to not having heart."The lack of intensity and desire was puzzling, given that the Boilermakers likely needed to win the tournament to gain a bid to the NCAA tournament."It's hard to explain because it's really frustrating," Purdue coach Gene Keady said. "The way we're playing now can't be tolerated."David Teague had 16 points and eight rebounds for Purdue. Purdue's leading scorer, Kenneth Lowe, was held to six points on 3-of-10 shooting before fouling out in the final minute.The Boilermakers started the second half with a 5-0 run to take a 24-19 lead on a 3-pointer by Teague. The Gophers came right back with a 15-4 run, ending with a 3-pointer by Bauer that gave them a 34-28 lead with 12:53 to play.Keady warned his players not to leave Bauer open, but the warnings fell on deaf ears.The senior hit all four of his 3-pointers in the second half, each one coming after a Purdue basket to keep the Boilermakers at bay.It also helped the Gophers have somewhat of a role reversal compared to last year's Big Ten tournament. Minnesota went into last year's tourney hoping that a strong showing would get them a bid to the NCAA tournament. Instead, they suffered a disappointing loss to Northwestern and wound up in the NIT."This year the role is reversed," Minnesota guard Ben Johnson said. "We played the role of spoilers. We're kind of relishing that role now."Now it's Purdue that is hoping to back into the NIT and extend its season."I'm not sure our AD is going to let us take a bid," Keady said. "The way we played today, he might just want to put this team in moth balls. ... The way we played today, we smelled like moth balls."
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