Timing is everything. Just a few weeks ago Purdue was struggling to do anything right. They were suffering from injuries, and they looked like half the team they were one year ago. Flashforward to Purdue's last two games, and they are fully healthy and clicking on most, if not all, cylinders.
Meanwhile, the Golden Gophers played their most inept offensive game of the season and that combination led to Purdue's 70-62 win in Minneapolis Thursday night.
The Gophers shot a stunningly low 27 percent from the field (season average is 46 percent) and 15 percent from three (season average is 37 percent). Purdue's defense deserves some credit for Minnesota's poor shooting. They switched on screens. They didn't allow our perimeter shooters space. And because the Gophers toyed with, but never really established an inside presence, the Gophers once again had no half-court game.
The best player on the floor on this night was Purdue's Jajuan Johnson (though Brent Musburger's incessant praise made me think he was the next Tim Tebow). Johnson scored 19 in 34 minutes, added 8 rebonuds, 5 blocks and shot 60 percent from the field. MInnesota's three best performers, Al Nolen, Lawrence Westbrook and Damian Johnson, shot 3-for-14, 2-for-8 and 2-for-9 respectively.
The Gophers are never going to win when that happens.
Perhaps the best all around performance for the Gophers came from freshman Ralph Sampson III. He had 7 rebounds, six points inside and he showed a nice touch as a passer from the high post. But Tubby, as has been his norm, went away from size in exchange for speed and athleticism. Colton Iverson, who was effective scoring insider and getting to the line, played just 11 minutes. In games like this when the Gophers are struggling to find an offensive identity, why not dump the ball inside on a regular basis?
The loss sets up what is basically a must win game for the Gophers at Indiana Sunday. The Hoosiers are highly beatable, but Tom Crean's team isn't going to give anything away, especially at home.
Other random thoughts.
- Devron Bostick played 8 minutes, went 0-for-2 from three. It's been quite the negative turnaround for Bostick after setting The Barn on fire against Penn State.
- How stangnant was Minnesota's half court offense? The team had a total of 5 assists! They average 16 per game.
- Free throw shooting was a bright spot for the Gophers. They shot 27-for-31 from the charity stripe. Al Nolen was 10-for-10.
- Blake Hoffarber continues to be ice cold. He was 0-for-3 from downtown. Is there something wrong with him? An injury of some sort? Is the coaching staff messing with his shot to speed it up? This could just be a slump, but usually slumps coincide with something.