With yet another off-court distraction, some questioned whether the Gophers would be ready to play on Thursday night. It turned out that both teams were ready to play, starting out the game with a hailstorm of shots. Within the first three minutes of the game, the Boilermakers' JaJuan Johnson had made four shots for all of his team's nine points. Blake Hoffarber and the Gophers were unphased, battling back to keep the game in reach.
Hoffarber hit his first five shots including a three to tie the game at 17 with just over 12 minutes left in the first half. Despite JaJuan Johnson's 18 first-half points, the entire Minnesota squad shot amazing, 55% from the field, to go in to halftime with a 41-40 lead.
The second half continued the scoring trend with Hoffarber scoring 10 early points to give the Gophers a 53-45 lead with just over 15 minutes left. With some sharpshooting and two trips to the free throw line, the Boilermakers had gone ahead, 54-53. With the Gophers losing momentum quickly, senior Al Nolen stealthy stole the ball and took it for a drunk, energizing the crowd and his teammates.
The game remained close until the head with the Gophers pulling away on nice shooting late from Ralph Sampson and Al Nolen. Arguably the play of the game came with under a minute to go Purdue appeared to have an easy lay-in when Rodney Williams stepped up to deny the shot, keeping the lead at three points.
Al Nolen had a chance to ice the game at the end but missed the front end of a 1-and-1, giving Purdue life. Unfortunately for the Boilermakers, they squandered the clock down to ten seconds and had to force up two contested threes as time ran out, giving the Gophers their first conference win over a ranked team.
Inside the Game
With an arrest earlier in the week, it wasn't clear how Trevor Mbakwe would respond. Despite not starting, he logged 31 minutes and had seven points to go with 10 boards. One of the highlights of the game was a huge block by Mbakwe in the fast half.
Thursday was one of the best shooting performances for the Gophers this season, shooting 27-51 (.529) from the field and six for 14 from three (.429). Despite shooting well from the field, the Gophers only made 10 of 16 (.625) free throws.
Player of the game honors must be shared by both Blake Hoffarber and JaJuan Johnson. Hoffarber was 10 of 15 from the floor including four of six from deep for 26 points. Johnson was equally hot with 29 points on 11-21 shooting.
Despite a big game from Johnson, the Boilermakers' other star, E'twaun Moore had only five points while shooting just two for 14 from the field including one of seven from behind the arc.