Richard Pitino was concerned about how his offense looked recently, so he decided to make changes to the Gophers' starting lineup, putting in sophomore guard Tre' Williams on Saturday at Purdue.
The 6-5 Williams replaced junior Both Gach, who was coming off a one-point performance in last weekend's 63-49 loss against Maryland at home.
Pitino said the Gophers lacked energy to begin the game against the Terrapins, but Williams felt it has been his role to lift his teammates when he is on the floor.
"I take pride in being the main one giving my guys confidence," Williams said. "Staying in their ear, hyping them up even when they make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. I take pride being the one to pick up everybody."
The Gophers were noticeably more energized Saturday, getting off to a 24-10 lead against Purdue. The Boilermakers cut it to a five-point deficit with 3:20 to play in the first half, but Williams scored five straight points to make it a 33-23 advantage for the Gophers after his second three-pointer of the game.
Gach, who has averaged 9.6 points this season, started the first 16 games, but he was averaging just 5.7 points in Big Ten play. He was scoreless against Purdue, missing the only shot he took. Williams surpassed his 3.1-points-per-game average in the first half with eight points Saturday on 3-for-4 shooting from the field. He also had five rebounds.
The Texas native remained confident this season despite seeing his playing time decrease from 16.2 to 11.1 minutes per game compared to his freshman year, when he started four games.
Williams' two best scoring performances this season previously were seven points in road losses at Michigan and Iowa. Despite not having a big impact offensively earlier this season, he was always vocal, even from the bench.
"When there are no fans, it's hard to keep your confidence throughout a 40-minute span," Williams said. "I think that was a big thing this year is making sure guys stay confident and ready to go."