Gophers at Purdue
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
BIGGIE VS. MURPHY– Purdue’s Caleb "Biggie" Swanigan was injured when Minnesota lost to the Boilermakers at home last season. That means Swanigan and Jordan Murphy will meet for the first time on the court Sunday in West Lafayette. The two All-Big Ten freshman team selections entered this season as the top returning rebounders in the Big Ten. Swanigan made a huge jump in production from 10.2 to 17.8 points and 8.3 to 12.4 rebounds per game. Murphy’s numbers are similar to his freshman season, averaging 10.6 points and 8.6 rebounds. Both Swanigan (21 vs. Western Illinois and 20 vs. Norfolk State) and Murphy (21 vs. Michigan State) have reached 20 rebounds in a game this season. No Big Ten players had 20 rebounds in a game before this season since Indiana's D.J. White (22 vs. Michigan) and Michigan's DeShawn Sims (20 vs. Florida Gulf Coast) both did it in 2007-08.
HAAS VS. LYNCH– The Gophers landed Reggie Lynch as a transfer from Illinois State for games like Sunday. Lynch, a 6-foot-10, 260-pound junior center, matches up against Purdue’s 7-2, 290-pound junior Isaac Haas. In years past, 7-footer A.J. Hammons dominated the Gophers in the paint for Purdue with his size and strength. Haas will look to do the same. Lynch struggled staying out of foul trouble against Nick Ward in Tuesday’s 75-74 overtime loss to Michigan State. One of the nation’s top shot blockers gets a chance to redeem himself against the Boilermakers.
FRESHMEN IMPACT– Carsen Edwards wasn’t as highly rated as Amir Coffey in the 2016 class, but both freshmen were key recruits for Purdue and Minnesota, respectively. Edwards, a 6-foot guard, has started the last seven games and is averaging 11 points and 2.8 rebounds this season. The 6-foot-8 Coffey went through a slight slump offensively at the end of nonconference play, but he’s averaging 12.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Both players had impressive Big Ten debuts. Edwards’ 19 points in a win against Iowa were the most for a Boilermakers freshman Big Ten debut since 1981. Coffey had 17 points against Michigan State. ...A wild card could be the play of Gophers freshman Eric Curry, who has the size (6-9, 235) to help compete in the paint.
Time: 3:30 p.m. CT, Sunday. Where: Mackey Arena. Line: Purdue by 13 1/2. Series: Purdue leads 101-82; Minnesota lost last meeting 68-64 at home Jan 27, 2016. TV: BTN. Online/Live video: BTN2go. Radio: 1500ESPN.
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G-Nate Mason 6-2 Jr. 13.5
G-Dupree McBrayer 6-5 So. 12.7
G-Amir Coffey 6-8 Fr. 12.3
F-Jordan Murphy 6-7 So. 10.6
C-Reggie Lynch 6-10 Jr. 8.1
Key reserves – Eric Curry, F/C, 6-9, Fr., 6.5 ppg; Akeem Springs, G, 6-4, Sr., 8.9 ppg; Bakary Konate, C, 6-11, Jr., 2.3 ppg; Michael Hurt, F, 6-7, Fr., 1.2 ppg
Coach: Richard Pitino 81-67 (5th season)
Notable: The Gophers are 0-8 at Purdue since winning 59-57 in West Lafayette, Ind. in 2005. They have never beaten a ranked Boilermakers team at Mackey Arena. But they did beat No. 6 Purdue 69-42 to reach the Big Ten tournament championship game in 2010. That was the largest margin of victory in the series for Minnesota since 1950. The last five meetings have been decided by five points or fewer.
PURDUE (12-2, 1-0)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G-Carson Edwards 6-0 Fr. 11.0
G-P.J. Thompson 5-10 Jr. 7.5
G-Dakota Mathias 6-4 Jr. 10.1
F-Caleb Swanigan 6-9 So. 17.8
C-Isaac Haas 7-2 Jr. 14.4
Key reserves–Vincent Edwards, F, 6-8, Jr., 12.0 ppg; Ryan Cline, G, 6-5, So., 6.9 ppg; Basil Smotherman, F, 6-6, RS-Jr., 4.8 ppg; Spike Albrecht, G, 6-0, RS-Sr., 2.4 ppg.
Coach: Matt Painter 275-141 (13th season)
Notable: The Boilermakers have arguably been the Big Ten’s most dominant team this season with nine of their 12 wins coming by at least 21 points, including an 89-67 win against Iowa at home in the Big Ten opener Wednesday. Purdue has scored at least 82 points in four straight games, ranking second in the conference in scoring (84.6 points per game).
Fuller’s prediction (12-1 record): Purdue 83, Gophers 70. The Gophers have never beaten a ranked Purdue team in West Lafayette, Ind. since the series began in 1904. I really doubt history will be made Sunday, especially with the Boilermakers playing at such a high level offensively this season. You could argue that this is one of Painter’s best offensive teams during his tenure. Purdue leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (49.8) and three-point shooting percentage (41.3), which is ninth in the NCAA. Slow down the Boilermakers’ frontcourt and they still can shoot the lights out. That’s tough even for an improved Gophers defense under Pitino to overcome.