GOPHERS at Purdue
FIRST GUARD TO 30 WINS? — Gophers guard Nate Mason’s 33 points in Wednesday’s Senior Night 86-82 win against Iowa gave him 1,701 for his career, four points away from surpassing U legend Kevin McHale for sixth place on the program’s all-time scoring list. It was the fourth 30-point game of his career (tied Archie Clark for fourth most in school history). The first was Mason’s 31 points and 11 assists helping to lead the Gophers to a 91-82 win last year at Purdue. Purdue sophomore Carsen Edwards topped Mason’s mark this week with a career-best 40 points in a win Thursday over Illinois. The 6-foot, 200-pound Edwards had the most points for a Purdue player since Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson had 44 in 1994 and most for a Purdue guard since Rick Mount’s 61 in 1970. Edwards is averaging 20 points in his last 13 games. Mason had only eight points on 2-for-10 shootout in the last meeting with Purdue in an 81-47 loss on Jan. 13. Edwards had 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting, seven assists and zero turnovers.
RETURN OF VINCE EDWARDS — Why would Vincent Edwards want to miss Senior Day? The 6-8 forward had been out with an ankle injury the previous two games. But Edwards was cleared and practiced the last two days. Good news for Boilermakers fans who can see him play one last time in Mackey Arena. Bad news for the Gophers, who couldn’t stop him in his 27-point outing in January. The Ohio native is averaging 14.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists this season. Edwards is the third active Big Ten player with at least 1,500 career points (1,544). Nate Mason and Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh (1,674) are the others.
REBOUND TITLE IN BAG — Jordan Murphy has the school single-season double-double record of 23, surpassing Mychal Thompson’s 21 in 1976. With one regular season game left, the 6-7 junior forward is certain to become the first Gopher player to lead the Big Ten in rebounding since Trevor Mbakwe in 2013 (Mbakwe also did it in 2011). Murphy’s 11.4 rebounds per game are the highest in the program since Thompson’s 12.5 rebounds per game in 1976. Murphy has also been a thief on defense lately. In the first half of Wednesday’s win against Iowa, he already had four of his career-high five steals. The San Antonio native is using his length (7-foot wingspan) and improved defensive instincts to make it tough for opponents to throw the ball into the post. Look for Murphy to continue jumping into passing lanes Sunday against a bigger Purdue team. He has 11 steals combined in his last three games. He had 14 total in 14 Big Ten games before that.
Time: 3 p.m. CT, Sunday. Where: Mackey Arena. Line: Purdue by 18.5. Series: Purdue leads 93-78. Last meeting Gophers lost at home 81-47 vs on Jan. 13, 2018. TV: FS1 Online/Live video: Fox Sports app Radio:100.3 FM and 1130 AM
MINNESOTA (15-15, 4-13)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G – Nate Mason 6-2 Sr. 16.8
G – Dupree McBrayer 6-5 Jr. 9.7
F – Michael Hurt 6-7 So. 3.4
F – Jordan Murphy 6-7 Jr. 17.1
C – Bakary Konate 6-11 Sr. 1.7
Reserves– Isaiah Washington, G, 6-1, Fr., 8.2 ppg; Jamir Harris, G, 6-2, Fr., 4.1 ppg; Davonte Fitzgerald, F, 6-8, Jr., 3.7 ppg; Gaston Diedhiou, F/C, 6-10, Sr., 1.8 ppg.
Coach: Richard Pitino 108-90 (6th season)
Notable: The Gophers are shooting 40.5 percent (342-for-844) from the field and 34.8 percent from three-point range (100-for-287) in the 14 games without center Reggie Lynch, who is no longer on the team after dropping his appeal and being expelled after a suspension for an alleged sexual assault. ... Junior Dupree McBrayer returned this week after missing two games and five total with a lower leg injury. He had scored just 21 points combined on 7-for-32 shooting from the field and 4-for-16 from the three-point line in his previous four games before a 16-point game on 8-for-13 free shooting in Wednesday’s win over Iowa.
NO. 9 PURDUE (25-5, 14-3)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G – P.J. Thompson 5-10 Sr. 7.5
G – Carsen Edwards 6-1 So. 17.4
G – Dakota Mathias 6-4 Sr. 11.9
F – Vincent Edwards 6-8 Sr. 14.9
C – Isaac Haas 7-2 Sr. 14.8
Key reserves– Ryan Cline, G, 6-6, Jr., 4.2 ppg; Matt Haarms, C, 7-3, Fr., 5.2 ppg; Nojel Eastern, F, 6-6, Fr., 2.8 ppg; Grady Eifert, F, 6-6, Jr., 1.6 ppg; Jacquil Taylor, F, 6-10, Jr., 1.7 ppg.
Coach: Matt Painter 315-152 (14th season)
Notable: The Boilermakers have won two straight games since a three-game losing streak, including Thursday’s 93-86 win at Illinois. They still have a shot at sharing the Big Ten title with Michigan State if they beat Minnesota and the Spartans lose to Wisconsin on Sunday … Starters Vince Edwards, Isaac Haas, Dakota Mathias and P.J. Thompson will all be playing their final home game at Mackey Arena on Sunday afternoon. This senior class needs one more victory to get to 100 for their career together at Purdue, which would make them the fourth class ever to reach the century mark. The winningest senior class in history is within their reach. The 2011 class had 107 wins from 2007-11.
Fuller’s prediction (23-7 picks record): Purdue 88, Gophers 69. The Gophers will be the 11th seed in the Big Ten tournament and play the 14th seed at 8 p.m. Wednesday whether they beat Purdue on Sunday or not. So they should be able to play with a nothing-to-lose mentality. All the pressure is on Purdue since it’s Senior Day and the Boilermakers need a victory to earn a share of the Big Ten title. But regardless of what both teams are playing for the matchup is still as one-sided as any game Minnesota has played all season. Richard Pitino’s team is an 18.5-point underdog, which seems fair considering the Gophers suffered their largest margin of defeat in Williams Arena history they last time these teams met in a 34-point affair Jan. 13. This is the second straight season when Minnesota had to play one of the winningest senior classes on the road in the regular-season finale. Last season, Minnesota had a chance to finish second in the Big Ten with a win at Wisconsin, but it lost by 17 points to seniors Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig and Vitto Brown. Haas, Edwards, Mathias and Thompson might go out in similar fashion Sunday against the shorthanded Gophers. Don’t worry U fans there’s still a chance for at least one more victory against Rutgers, Illinois or Iowa in the Big Ten tourney.