WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Purdue's young basketball players
are growing up quickly.
The Boilermakers fought back from an early deficit, then took
charge in a 72-55 win over Minnesota on Saturday.
When Minnesota jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead, Purdue coach Matt
Painter was worried that his team filled with freshmen and
newcomers might crumble as they had Wednesday when Ohio State took
a 12-2 lead en route to an 80-64 win.
"That was my biggest concern," Painter said. "It's tough for
our guys to bounce back, you know, it's that 'here we go again.'
But we kept fighting and kept plugging away."
Purdue answered Minnesota's early run with five 3-pointers to
take a 29-22 lead with five minutes left in the first half.
Minnesota hit three 3-pointers to tie the score at 33 at the break.
Marcus White scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half. He
punctuated the win with two emphatic dunks and a 3-point play in
the final four minutes. The transfer from Connecticut also finished
with six rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
"I think the biggest thing tonight is that I didn't rush my
game," White said. "When I began my first season, I was so
excited and wanted to do big things. I've finally caught on that if
I relax, the game will come to me and I don't have to work so hard
to make things happen."
Adam Boone led Minnesota with 11 points but was held scoreless
in the second half. Vincent Grier averaged 18 points per game, but
Purdue held him to 10 on 3-for-9 shooting. Purdue's Bryant Dillon
guarded Grier for much of the game.
"He is a real energetic player," Dillon said. "I just tried
to be there when he caught the ball so he wouldn't get a wide-open
shot. I think I managed to do a decent job defensively on him."
Painter's first Big Ten win as Purdue's coach ended the
Boilermakers' four-game losing streak. Purdue (7-8, 1-3 Big Ten)
matched its victory total from last season.
Minnesota (9-5, 0-3) outrebounded Purdue 19-13 in the first
half, but Purdue beat the Golden Gophers on the boards 26-12 in the
Purdue's Matt Kiefer had 12 points and 13 rebounds. He grabbed
11 boards in the second half.
"Their inside guys, I think, were huge," Minnesota coach Dan
Monson said. "White, Kiefer and (Gary) Ware were more physical
than we were and more aggressive than we were."
Minnesota led for most of the second half until Gary Ware's
short jump-hook gave Purdue a 48-47 lead with 7:45 remaining. Chris
Lutz' 3-pointer gave the Boilermakers a 52-47 lead with six minutes
left that forced a Minnesota timeout. The Boilermakers came out of
the timeout and went on a 15-5 run that put the game out of reach.
"I think it's missed shots, and we quit getting stops," Monson
said. "It's what struggling teams do."