GAME NOTES: The Big Ten Conference regular season comes to an end for the Purdue Boilermakers and Minnesota Golden Gophers, as the two meet at Mackey Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Minnesota had a modest two-game win streak snapped in Wednesday's 53-51 loss at Nebraska. The setback was the seventh straight on the road for the Golden Gophers, who are 15-2 at home this season.
On the other side of the floor, Purdue has split its last four contests. Most recently, the Boilermakers were dealt an 80-75 home loss from No. 7 Michigan on Wednesday.
In terms of the all-time series between these two schools, Purdue owns an 88-75 advantage.
Exactly one week after knocking off top-ranked Indiana, Minnesota came up just short in its bid to play spoiler against the Cornhuskers in their last-ever home game at the Devaney Center. NU never trailed in the game despite shooting just 36 percent from the floor. The Gophers shot a mere 38 percent and went only 10-of-20 at the foul line, as they fell to 1-7 in Big Ten road games. Trevor Mbakwe led the way with 15 points in the loss, followed by Andre Hollins with 14 off the bench. Rodney Williams, who scored a season-high 23 points in the first meeting with Nebraska, was held scoreless in 27 minutes. Hollins is scoring a team-best 13.6 ppg on the season, while three other Gophers are averaging at least 10 ppg.
For Purdue, Terone Johnson paces the squad with 13.5 ppg, while A.J. Hammons is tallying 10.5 points and a team-best 6.2 rebounds per tilt. D.J. Byrd (9.7 ppg) leads the team with 69 3-pointers and is a 36 percent shooter from beyond the arc. Despite their overall struggles in the win-loss column, the Boilermakers are +5.3 in rebounding margin. However, their opponent tops the Big Ten with a +8.5 margin on the boards. Earlier this week, Purdue managed to hang around with the seventh-ranked team in the country thanks largely to a career-high 32 points from Johnson, who shot 12-of-17 from the floor and pulled down seven rebounds. Rapheal Davis chipped in with 15 points and nine caroms, but Michigan ultimately pulled away behind a 54 percent shooting effort from the floor and 17 free throws in the second half.
The Golden Gophers have notched a respectable 20 wins on the season, but they are almost a completely different team at home than on the road. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers should get a boost in confidence after giving the Wolverines all they could handle.
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