The Big Ten's third-leading scorer, Marcus Carr, going scoreless in the first half Saturday at Purdue didn't keep the Gophers from taking a 14-point lead.
A halftime advantage on the road for the first time this season by five points was a good sign. Richard Pitino was hoping his No. 21-ranked basketball team could finish it off even with Carr struggling.
Minnesota's hot start from three-point range eventually fizzled, and that was too tough to overcome in an 81-62 loss Saturday night against the Boilermakers at Mackey Arena.
The Gophers (11-6, 4-6 Big Ten), who shot 38% from the field and got outrebounded 44-27, have lost five of their past seven games. They're 0-5 on the road this season, losing by an average margin of 19 points.
"You could just tell we wore down a little bit," Pitino said. "We were in a flow offensively in the first half. We were playing really good defense, but I thought their physicality really grinded us down."
Sophomore Tre' Williams, who got his first start of the season, Eric Curry and Brandon Johnson each scored eight points in the first half. The Gophers opened a 24-10 lead after hitting six three-pointers early, but Purdue would outscore them 71-38 the rest of the way.
The Boilermakers (12-6, 7-4) were led by significant contributions from four stellar freshmen who combined for 51 points.
Brandon Newman, who had a career-high 29 points, was one of four Purdue freshmen named Big Ten player of the week this season — an accomplishment that had never happened in league history. Newman, Jaden Ivey and Mason Gillis combined for a freshmen-led rally with 14 points during a game-changing 24-6 run in the second half.
Carr, who finished with six points on 2-for-13 shooting, scored his first basket on a put-back to give the Gophers a 39-35 lead at 16:51 in the second half. Ivey's dunk less than a minute later gave the Boilermakers their first lead of the second half 40-39 and they didn't relinquish it.
Purdue had a balanced scoring attack with big man Trevion Williams' 17 points and 14 rebounds complementing 8-for-10 shooting from three-point range in the second half.
Liam Robbins had 15 points, seven rebounds and six blocks for the Gophers, but Pitino said even his big man was relying a bit too much on outside shots. The Gophers started 6-for-8 from three-point range early in the first half but went 4-for-20 the remainder of the game.
Not surprising considering the Gophers were shooting 29% on threes, worst in the Big Ten and ranked 303rd nationally.
"Live by the three and die by the three," Pitino said. "I don't think we shot a lot of bad ones. Probably Liam [2-for-7] was the only one I would like a couple less. But I know we're capable of more than we're making."
In last weekend's 63-49 loss vs. Maryland, Carr had 25 points, but he finished with zero assists in 40 minutes. The Gophers shot 30% from the field vs. the Terrapins in their first home loss.
The Gophers survived just fine without Carr's scoring early Saturday, but they desperately needed one of the nation's top point guards to bail out a deflated scoring attack in the second half.
"Marcus is a great player," junior Gabe Kalscheur said. "He's the one who fuels our offense, so he's going to bounce back for sure. I'm not worried about that."
• The reporter did not travel for the game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews after the game.