In their 73-69 upset of No. 11 Purdue on Tuesday night at Williams Arena, the Gophers had to overcome injuries to two reserves, including redshirt sophomore big man Eric Curry’s season-ending ligament tear in his right foot.
Curry, who was injured in practice Monday night, was on crutches and had his foot in a protective boot on the bench Tuesday.
In addition, junior forward Michael Hurt was sidelined by a groin injury from practice over the weekend.
“As soon as he told me Eric was out for the season, he told me [to be ready],” senior Matz Stockman said. “I expected it, because it seemed serious when I saw him getting injured in practice.”
The Memphis native has dealt with a number of injuries while at Minnesota, most recently a calf injury that caused him to miss two games in early February. He missed the team’s first 12 games after preseason knee surgery — and missed all of last season with torn ligaments and meniscus in his left knee.
Curry averaged 4.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 18.7 minutes in 15 games, including five starts, this season. He had six points and four rebounds in 13 minutes off the bench in Thursday’s 62-50 victory at Northwestern.
With Curry’s absence and starting center Daniel Oturu struggling, the Gophers relied a lot on Stockman, who hadn’t played for three games. Stockman had nine points, six rebounds and seven blocks, the Gophers’ most since Reggie Lynch’s final game, vs. Illinois on Jan. 3, 2018.
Senior Brock Stull added four points and six rebounds off the bench to help replace Hurt.
“It’s a great feeling as a coach to see guys who you bring here get their do,” coach Richard Pitino said. “They work hard.”
The Gophers honored seniors Jordan Murphy, Dupree McBrayer, Stockman, Stull and Jarvis Johnson before the game.
Murphy, McBrayer and Johnson were four-year players and members of Pitino’s 2015 recruiting class.
Johnson was not medically cleared to play during his career due to a heart condition, but he remained a scholarship player on the team.
The former DeLaSalle star guard and the first Minnesota high school player to sign with Pitino was allowed to suit up Tuesday and received a standing ovation when his name was announced as the “sixth man” during introductions.
“Unfortunately, he wasn’t cleared, but he has been a terrific member of our team,” Pitino said. “He’s got great perspective. Great on the bench. Great in the locker room. Great in the dorms talking to the guys. He’s a leader in a lot of ways that people don’t know about.”