WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – After starting at center for the first 18 games of his freshman season, Daniel Oturu didn’t need much time to figure out how to make an impact for the Gophers once he was asked to come off the bench.
The 6-foot-10 Cretin-Derham Hall product carried his team in the first half Sunday, scoring 13 of his 19 points in a 73-63 loss at No. 17 Purdue.
“He’s a talented guy,” senior forward Jordan Murphy said of Oturu. “He came out and gave us some really good minutes and good buckets when we needed him.”
Oturu, who entered the game averaging more than 10 points and seven rebounds with 18 starts, was used as a sixth man in each of the past two games after missing the Gophers’ victory over Iowa on Jan. 27 because of a shoulder injury.
Gophers coach Richard Pitino has gone with sophomore Eric Curry in the starting lineup since a two-point loss Jan. 22 at Michigan, but Curry was limited by a calf injury Sunday, with only two points and one rebound in 11 minutes.
“Oturu was very good offensively,” Pitino said. “Eric Curry I tried to limit because of a calf issues. I didn’t want it to become worse, because he was hobbling a little bit.”
Oturu started the second half Sunday, but he and Murphy had trouble scoring inside when the Boilermakers went with more size with 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms and 6-9 Trevion Williams.
Purdue coach Matt Painter said the decision to focus the interior defense on stopping Murphy (held to 10 points) meant Oturu had a chance to make plays.
“I thought Oturu kept them in the game,” Painter said. “I thought he was great. We wanted to double as much as we could on Murphy and try to bottle him up.”
The seriousness of Curry’s injury is uncertain, but Oturu proved he could handle an even bigger load offensively when called upon.
Milestone for Coffey
Gophers junior guard Amir Coffey reached the 1,000-point mark in career scoring with his 22-point performance Sunday.
Coffey, who had 16 points in the second half, now has 1,112 points in three seasons, which puts him in 40th place on the program’s official all-time scoring list ahead of Jim Brewer (1,009), Dick Garmaker (1,008) and Larry Mikan (1,007).