Richard Pitino lost his cool in the first half Saturday after Gophers point guard Nate Mason got nailed in the throat by Purdue big man Isaac Haas.
The nasty blow appeared unintentional, but it was enough to get Pitino a technical foul after jawing at officials while sticking up for his senior captain.
The home crowd got fired up to fuel the shorthanded Gophers for a few minutes while taking an early lead … but emotion could only carry them so far.
No. 5 Purdue looked like the defending Big Ten champion, and the Gophers resembled a team still struggling mightily to compete without two starters in an 81-47 loss Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 12,459 at Williams Arena.
The Gophers (13-6, 2-4 Big Ten) suffered their third consecutive loss playing without suspended center Reggie Lynch and injured guard Amir Coffey, out indefinitely because of a right shoulder injury. Lynch's status hasn't changed since he was found responsible by a university panel last week for an alleged sexual misconduct incident, a decision he is appealing.
The 34-point margin was the Gophers' second-worst loss in the history of the Barn, behind a 90-51 thrashing by No. 1 UCLA with John Wooden and Lew Alcindor in December 1968. It was the Gophers' worst loss to the Boilermakers since a 97-61 loss at West Lafayette, Ind., in February 2000.
"We're down," Pitino said. "It's hard because we're such a totally different team. I feel like we need months of practice to get better. Almost like two years ago when we were restarting."
Pitino was referring to the 8-23 season in 2015-16, when the Gophers lost 14 in a row. Five players who saw the court Saturday were on that team.
"It's draining," Pitino said. "I was right there. It feels like that again a little bit. I've got to get their minds right, get them playing well."
Vincent Edwards scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half to help the Boilermakers (17-2, 6-0) extend their winning streak to 13. Haas and Carsen Edwards each had 14 points for Purdue, which hit 14 three-pointers and won the rebounding battle 46-29.
The Gophers shot only 29 percent with stars Mason and Jordan Murphy struggling for the second game in a row.
Mason, who had 31 points and 11 assists in last year's victory at Purdue, followed a nine-point, four-turnover, five-foul performance in Wednesday's embarrassing 83-60 loss at Northwestern with only eight points Saturday. In the past two games, he is 4-for-20 from the floor.
After Pitino's technical at 16:27 in the first half, the Gophers used a 9-3 run to take an 11-9 lead. The Boilermakers answered with a 25-4 run, including a 15-0 run sparked by Edwards' 13 points.
Purdue's 13-point halftime advantage was cut to 40-30 on a three-pointer from Isaiah Washington to open the second half, but that was as close as the Gophers would get.
Washington led the Gophers with 11 points on 3-for-13 shooting. Murphy finished with 10 points and four rebounds.
After 17 consecutive with a double-double to open the season, Murphy failed to reach the mark for the second game in a row. Lynch's replacement, Bakary Konate, had four points and seven rebounds.
"Without him there, teams are definitely doubling me a little more and often," Murphy said of Lynch's absence. "It's a huge difference, and it's something that we miss."
The Gophers' bid to end their losing streak without Lynch and Coffey doesn't get easier. They play away from home for three games over six days: at Penn State on Monday, at Maryland on Thursday and against Ohio State in New York's Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
"Things aren't going our way," Murphy said. "But we have to just keep our heads up, keep up energy and just not give up."