This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Gophers postgame: Minnesota looks much improved against Purdue

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: January 6, 2014 - 9:45 PM

In their second Big Ten game, the Gophers looked like a different team. 

They played smart, they executed, they got big games from their big players. 

And even when things began to unravel at the end, they pulled it together enough to come out with the well-earned 82-79 victory.

For the most part, Minnesota did everything they'll need to do if they're going to be a competitive team in the league. They put it all together.

The Gophers lost out to Purdue on the boards (which they can expect to do frequently considering the undersized and guard-oriented nature of the team) and they had 13 turnovers, but Minnesota out-played the Boilermakers in just about every other respect.

In a game in which 39 fouls were called -- including 22 in the first half -- the Gophers were stellar from the free-throw line (23 for 27) while the Boilermakers flubbed (20 for 28). They shot 52.2 percent from the field while holding Purdue to 39.7 percent. They subdued Boilermakers center A.J. Hammons, who simply did not look very good, finishing with just seven points and a single rebound. Minnesota, however, got a lot of production from that position with Elliott Eliason recording eight points, seven rebounds and six blocks.

Minnesota was up by 19 before Purdue plowed back, keeping the Gophers off-kilter with a full-court press -- while hitting some big shots on the other end. In the end, it wasn't enough to surpass the Gophers would had been clutch all day.

It's a big win for the Gophers' confidence as they head on their first league road trip -- first to Penn State and then to Michigan State, both this week.

Other notes on today's game:

*Austin Hollins looked great one game after scoring just two points against Michigan. "It definitely felt good," said Hollins, who finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. "I got up a lot of shots in the past two days, so I was ready when the game started."

*Andre Hollins led the way for the Gophers strong free throw shooting game, and was extremely aggressive in getting to the line, just as coach Richard Pitino has urged. He went 9-for-11 on the day. "We attack," he said. "We want to go at the defense, we want to put pressure on them before they even stated those [new fouling] rules, we knew we wanted to go and try to get fouled, get to the rim, open that lane up, get our teammates open. It's working well for us right now."

*Daquein McNeil played a big role, helping to fill a spot in the lineup for DeAndre Mathieu after the point guard left after 5:30 in the first half with two fouls. The freshman played in some key moments with both Mathieu and both Hollins' out of the lineup, and had a pair of consecutive layups to keep the Gophers a step ahead. It's clear Pitino is really starting to trust him more. 

*Mathieu, meanwhile, rebounded nicely in the second half after missing most of the first, finishing with 11 points and four assists to one turnover, after his five-turnover game against Michigan. 

*The Gophers had 11 three-pointers, including four from Austin Hollins.

*Another night, another highlight-reel slam from Hollins. Here's today's, plus a few others from BTN.

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