9:00 PM ET, February 22, 2006
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Just a month ago, Minnesota would have celebrated wildly after simply winning a game. The subdued reaction following the Gophers' 62-50 triumph over Purdue on Wednesday shows how far the team has come.The win was the fifth in seven games for resurgent Minnesota (14-10, 5-8 Big Ten), which started the season with six straight Big Ten losses. The Gophers came out on top despite getting just six points from top scorer Vincent Grier and only seven in the first half from the starting lineup.Spencer Tollackson, benched last month in favor of burly walk-on Zach Puchtel, was solid inside, scoring 12 points. Fellow reserves Rico Tucker and Dan Coleman added 10 and 9 points, respectively."It just shows a lot about our character," Tollackson said. "We're not going to get discouraged, we're just going to keep fighting. We're going to try to do anything to help the team win."Minnesota's bench totaled 33 points."When we're able to stay out there for a little bit, we can do some positive things," Coleman said.The victory fueled hope for Minnesota's postseason chances. With three games remaining, running the table would give the Gophers an 8-8 Big Ten record -- good enough, some feel, for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.Coach Dan Monson, though, said thinking about a postseason bid is a long way off."We're becoming a very good team, but good doesn't cut it in this league, you got to become great," said Monson. "We have only a few weeks to do that. We just got to make another jump."For Purdue (9-16, 3-11), it was another disappointing performance in coach Matt Painter's first season. The Boilermakers had trouble running their offense, turned the ball over 19 times and fell to 0-12 on the road."We had a lot of unforced turnovers in the first half, and it gave Minnesota an advantage," Bryant Dillon said. "The second half, we were fouling too much and we gave them free throws."Matt Kiefer, Purdue's leading scorer at 12 points per game, scored just nine points before fouling out with 4:24 remaining.Entering the game scoring an average of 15.4 points, Grier didn't get on the board until hitting a driving layup and adding a free throw with 11:57 left in the game. The 3-point play put the Gophers ahead 45-29.It was just the fourth time Grier has failed to score at least 10 points in his two seasons at Minnesota.Adam Boone, with 10 points, was Minnesota's only starter to reach double digits.Marcus White led the Boilermakers with 12 points.The Gophers are 12-2 at Williams Arena, where they host Illinois on Tuesday in their final regular season home game. Minnesota has road games at Wisconsin on Sunday and Northwestern on March 4.Neither team could establish any kind of flow during a sloppy first half. Minnesota did put together a 12-5 run to take a 22-15 lead, highlighted by a dunk by Dan Coleman off his own missed 3-point shot. Purdue turned the ball over 12 times and managed just one field goal during an 8-minute stretch of the first half but stayed within striking distance on a couple of inside baskets by Kiefer.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||18-43 (.419)||20-45 (.444)|
|3P Made-Attempted||4-13 (.308)||4-15 (.267)|
|FT Made-Attempted||10-18 (.556)||18-23 (.783)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||21 (0/0)||20 (0/0)|