No. 3 Purdue Survives Against Minnesota 59-58

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Minnesota's Damian Johnson, left, tries to block a shot by Purdue's JaJuan Johnson in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Minnesota's Damian Johnson, left, tries to block a shot by Purdue's JaJuan Johnson in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

Feb. 24, 2010

 

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Keaton Grant's jumper with 7.7 seconds left lifted No. 3 Purdue past Minnesota 59-58 after losing star Robbie Hummel to a knee injury in the first half Wednesday night.

Devoe Joseph dribbled to the corner and faked for an open shot that bounced off the rim at the buzzer, and Damian Johnson's off-balance tip-in came a split-second late to spoil an inspired comeback by the Gophers with Hummel sitting glumly on the bench.

JaJaun Johnson had 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Boilermakers (24-3, 12-3) to their 10th straight victory to remain in first place in the Big Ten. E'Twaun Moore and Hummel had 11 points apiece to ruin a career-best game by Minnesota's Ralph Sampson III.

Sampson had 21 points and seven rebounds for the Gophers (16-11, 7-8), who held Purdue without a point for a stretch of 10 minutes, 18 seconds bridging halftime.

With Hummel looking on glumly from the bench with crutches at his side and Johnson and Moore not as effective as usual, a deafening crowd backed an active Minnesota zone defense with Sampson and fellow big man Colton Iverson clogging the lane and muscling their way to the basket on offense.

The Gophers fell behind by 14 in the first half and led by as many as nine in the second half, with the Boilermakers unable to get any shots to fall. Moore, who shoots better than 50 percent in conference play this season but shot poorly in this game, hit the side of the backboard on one 3-point attempt in the second half.

It wasn't until Johnson put in a couple of turnarounds in the lane to cut the lead to 49-48, putting the Boilermakers back in position to win and set up the tense final stretch.

Damian Johnson's tip-in drew a foul with 1:46 left, after the Gophers took the shot clock all the way down, and his free throw made it 56-52. Grant responded with a 3-pointer, cutting the lead to one with 79 seconds remaining.

Joseph's drive missed, and Colton Iverson couldn't bat the putback in. Then, Moore raced the other way for a layup and the first Boilermakers lead since 30-29.

Moore was fouled, but missed the free throw, and Lawrence Westbrook hit a leaner with 25 seconds left to put the Gophers back in front. Grant responded with his pull-up jumper, skipping back in celebration, and Minnesota called timeout to set up the last try.

Purdue, which hosts Michigan State on Sunday, was the highest-ranked foe the Gophers have faced in three years--since back-to-back losses to No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 2 Ohio State here at "The Barn" in February 2007.

Gophers seniors Johnson and Westbrook each publicly questioned this week whether Purdue was as good as advertised, perhaps trying to keep their team's confidence up. Minnesota led late in the first half of the last meeting in West Lafayette, before fading and losing 79-60.

There was a clear difference early in this one, with the Gophers struggling to find any open shots and Hummel and Johnson flashing confident smiles as they jogged back for defense following a flurry of swishes in the opening minutes.

Purdue started 8 for 12 from the floor and led 26-14, when the game--and perhaps the season--changed with one misstep.

Hummel, who was just getting his stroke back after going a combined 8 for 26 from the field in the previous three games, drove to the lane and felt his right leg give slightly as he tried to plant. He fell to the floor in pain, clutching his knee, and couldn't put weight on his leg as he was helped off with 7:11 left in the half.

The Gophers crept closer and made their move right after halftime, with the 6-foot-11 sophomore namesake of the former NBA standout emerging with a so-far-unseen performance that got the home crowd screaming and had the Boilermakers unable to stop him.

Setting up soft hook shots with a slow, deliberate dribble, Sampson even stepped out and sank his first career 3-pointer that cut Purdue's lead 30-29. He scored nine straight and led Minnesota on an 18-0 run, ending finally when John Hart's 3-pointer went in from the wing to pull Purdue within 36-33.