Minnesota 59

(19-9, 9-6 Big Ten)

Purdue 57

(7-18, 3-11 Big Ten)

    2:32 PM ET, February 26, 2005

    Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana

    1 2 T
    MINN 18 4159
    PUR 31 2657

    Top Performers

    Minnesota: V. Grier 15 Pts, 4 Reb, 5 Ast, 4 Stl

    Purdue: G. Ware 10 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 5 Blk

    Gophers rally from 15 down

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Gene Keady's farewell lap around Mackey Arena was missing one thing Saturday -- a victory celebration.

    Vincent Grier and Aaron Robinson ruined the party, rallying Minnesota from a 15-point second-half deficit past Purdue 59-57 on a day in which Boilermaker fans said goodbye after Keady's 25 seasons as coach.

    Boilermakers officials gave Keady several gifts in a lengthy postgame ceremony before the coach addressed the sellout crowd. After the ceremony, Keady walked around the arena with his wife, Pat, waving to the fans before walking through the tunnel for the last time at Purdue.

    "We couldn't pull it off today, but we're not finished," Keady told the crowd. "We're going to go to Illinois and try to upset Bruce (Weber), and then we're going to go to Wisconsin and skin the Badgers. And then we're going to go to Chicago and win that thing and go dancing."

    It was typical Keady -- refusing to give up, never giving in.

    His players tried to emulate those characteristics on the court, but it wasn't enough Saturday.

    Purdue led 31-18 at halftime and extended the margin to 40-25 with 14:44 to play. But the Golden Gophers (19-9, 9-6 Big Ten) fought back against a undermanned Purdue squad that lost the Big Ten's top scorer, Carl Landry, early in the first half with a right knee injury. An injury update was not expected until Sunday.

    Grier scored 12 of his 15 points in the final 20 minutes, while Robinson added 14 points and had four 3-pointers. Purdue still had a chance to force overtime on Brandon McKnight's 12-footer at the buzzer, but the ball bounced off the back of the rim.

    Minnesota won in West Lafayette for only the third time since 1982.

    "I hate to see him go out with a loss, but that's the way the ball bounces," Robinson said. "I don't want to lose. He doesn't want to lose. Somebody's got to lose."

    For Keady, it was another agonizing day in the most frustrating season of his coaching career. Following the game, school officials and boosters gave him gifts -- a golf trip to Scotland, framed programs from his first and last game at Purdue, a No. 25 jersey and the distinction of having a golf tournament in Las Vegas named after him.

    Throughout the game, Keady was himself.

    He stood on the sidelines, sometimes barking at players, sometimes punching at air, pleading for fouls, sometimes even smiling.

    Nothing helped. Purdue (7-18, 3-11) lost its third straight.

    "I had a feeling today, to just attack, just go hard," McKnight said after scoring 18 points. "You could tell by how we played defense in the first half, we hadn't played defense like that all year. We were everywhere."

    In the first half, Purdue's passion was reminiscent of Keady's glory days in the mid-1990s, and the crowd reacted the same way.

    Fans held signs that read "Thanks Coach" and "Thanks for the memories" and the noise reached a decibel level that rekindled memories of Purdue's run to three straight Big Ten titles. When the Boilermakers started to sputter, the student section pieced together a portrait of Keady.

    Like most everything else done in Keady's honor, it drew a standing ovation.

    The crowd seemed to rattle the Gophers early. Minnesota committed 11 turnovers and shot 30.4 percent in the first half as Purdue took control with 6-0 and 10-0 runs.

    By the second half, Minnesota settled down.

    "It was a great emotional game," Grier said. "They played a little harder than us in the beginning and all we had to do was calm down."

    Grier steadied his teammates with an array of drives and off-balance shots, opening up the outside for Robinson.

    Minnesota's rally started with Grier's 12-foot jumper, and when Robinson hit a 3-pointer with 9:52 to go, the Gophers were within 42-39.

    Grier took care of the rest. He tied the score at 48 on another 12-footer with 7:04 left and gave Minnesota a 50-48 lead when he retrieved an errant Purdue pass and went in for a dunk.

    "A couple shots started going in. We all hit some big ones down the stretch," Grier said. "That's what opened the game up for us."

    The Boilermakers regained the lead twice more -- on Chris Hartley's late 3-pointer and when McKnight connected on 1 of 2 free throws for a 56-55 lead with 1:41 left.

    But Dan Coleman answered with a 3-pointer to make it 58-56.

    Purdue got one more chance to give Keady his biggest gift, after J'son Stamper missed both free throws with 5.9 seconds left. But McKnight's shot bounced away.

    "I felt it was money," McKnight said. "I was just so shocked."

    Keady finished his career at Purdue with a record of 282-72, including 20-4 against the Gophers.

    To Keady, though, it was an emotional finish to a career that included six Big Ten titles and seven conference coach of the year awards.

    "I just don't have a good attitude when I lose," he said. "It's just one of those things, it's unfortunate we couldn't win this game so you could feel better. But, hey, life isn't about you feeling good, it's about what happens and what happens was we got beat."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 59 57
    FG Made-Attempted 23-52 (.442) 22-48 (.458)
    3P Made-Attempted 5-14 (.357) 2-13 (.154)
    FT Made-Attempted 8-14 (.571) 11-16 (.688)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 15 (0/0) 17 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 2 15

    2004-05 Season

    Jan 12, 2005 @MINN 63, PUR 52Recap
    » Feb 26, 2005 MINN 59, @PUR 57Recap