Defense still the Achilles

While the Gophers are in last place in the Big Ten, scoring points hasn't been the problem. Giving them up has been.

The Gophers remain in last place in the Big Ten, but don't believe for a second that Dan Monson's team is a pushover.

The last-place status is largely a function of the leaky defense — the Gophers rank last in the Big Ten by allowing 73.4 ppg — but this team can fill it up on offense.

Minnesota was taken apart at home by Purdue on Feb. 21, but the Gophers beat Indiana on the road earlier in the week. In that game, Minnesota appeared to be out of it after falling behind 39-30 at halftime. However, the offense caught fire in the second half and Indiana was unable to capitalize on its opportunities.

Freshman forward Kris Humphries has been the man all season for Minnesota, but he was never better than he was at Indiana when he finished with 36 points and 12 boards. Interior defense has been a problem for the Hoosiers and Humphries exploited it as if he were a fifth-year senior.

The Gophers fell behind the Boilermakers by eight points — but this time had no answers for a halftime deficit. Minnesota never found its rhythm and the Boilermakers contested every shot. As a result, Minnesota made only 16-of-54 attempts.

Humphries was held to 14 points by the Boilermakers. Purdue forward Brett Buscher played a solid defensive game and limited Humphries to 5-of-16 shots from the field.

While the loss to Purdue hurts, the juice from the win over Indiana could carry over in home games with Ohio State and Iowa this week.

Minnesota has struggled over the years against Purdue. The Boilermakers lead the all-time series 90-69 and the Gophers have dropped six of the past 10 games played at Minnesota.

— The Gophers are scoring 71.5 ppg — fourth in the Big Ten.

— The Gophers have problems on the defensive end. They have a difficult time defending the perimeter and the Boilermakers exploited that weakness Feb. 21. Purdue connected on 6-of-13 from beyond the arc.

PROBABLE LINEUP: Forward Kris Humphries, forward Stan Gaines, center Jeff Hagen, guard Ben Johnson, guard Adam Boone.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's hard to beat a team when you spot them 11 points in the first half and shoot 30 percent." — Minnesota guard Ben Johnson on his team's offensive effort in the loss to Purdue.

UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Ohio State, Feb. 25; vs. Iowa, Feb. 28

KEYS: The Gophers have problems on the defensive end as they rank last in points allowed in the Big Ten. However, they can score and they can make life tough for Ohio State and Iowa if they can get off to a good start on the offensive end.

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