On the road in Big Ten play, a few mistakes can define the outcome. Gophers guard Marcus Carr was sensational for 37 minutes in an 83-78 double overtime loss at Purdue. Carr scored 27 points, including a key acrobatic layup to pull Minnesota ahead by five points with 3:20 remaining.
The Gophers were moments away from pulling off a massive road win at Mackey Arena. With 23 seconds remaining, Minnesota led by three points, but Purdue big-man Trevion Williams poked the ball away from Carr. Moments later, Sasha Stefanovic hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 62. On the next possession, Carr tried a pull-up jumper, but couldn’t knock the shot down.
The Gophers went back-and-forth with Purdue during the first overtime and Carr had another chance to put the game on ice. He again attempted to split a double-team and dribbled the ball off his foot. Carr had eight turnovers, including three in critical situations. He was exhausted in the final moments and played more than 40 minutes during Thursday’s game.
The Gophers put themselves in a position to pull off a dramatic victory, but couldn’t execute within high-leverage situations. Sophomore Daniel Oturu was sensational and scored 25 second-half points. He played physical in the post and hit multiple jumpers, including a key mid-range shot during the first overtime. Oturu finished the night with 29 points and 18 rebounds.
Overcoming the slow start
During Minnesota’s first five possessions, slow offensive movement resulted in a two-minute scoring drought. Purdue started out hot from downtown as Stefanovic drilled a trio of three-pointers. Minnesota’s defenders weren't finding players in transition, which led to open looks from downtown. In half-court sets, the defensive rotations were just a little slow. As a result, the Boilermakers were shooting more 55 percent over the first ten minutes.
However, Carr finally got the Gophers’ offense going by draining a pair of three-pointers in a span of three possessions. Near the midway point of the first half, Minnesota used a 9-0 run to erase an eight-point deficit. A smooth post move by Oturu helped the Gophers grab their first lead of the night. Minnesota made six of its next seven shots and started to find an offensive rhythm. Gabe Kalscheur kissed a pair of three-pointers off the glass to keep the Gophers’ offense rolling.
On the other end, Minnesota started to create deflections and forced three turnovers in a three-minute sequence. The transition defense also started to tighten up, which led to more contested shots. Late in the half, Purdue big-man Trevion Williams made two very physical post finishes with Oturu in perfect position. Each team traded punches in the first half as the Boilermakers took a 31-30 lead into halftime.
Williams and Haarms physical in the post
Purdue continued to find Williams on the block by isolating him on a low-post defender. He backed down Jarvis Omersa and scored on the Boilermakers’ first possession of the second half. Williams was a major offensive threat and played physical down low. His aggressive performance caused Omersa to foul out near the end of regulation. Williams scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds during Thursday's game.
Moments later, Matt Haarms moved behind the arc and made a three-pointer to extend the Boilermakers’ early second-half lead to seven points. Haarms had several key rebounds and finishes around the rim. He ended the game with 26 points on 11-for-16 shooting.
Purdue kept hitting contested looks and shot 45.8 percent from downtown. The Boilermakers were also getting to loose balls and rebounds, which helped them extend possessions. Minnesota’s offense struggled early in the second half, but a couple quality post touches by Oturu got things back on track. The Gophers also started to play better team defense, which helped the team's offensive rhythm. Carr started to take over and aggressively drove down the lane for an easy layup. His acrobatic drive gave the Gophers a five-point lead with 3:20 remaining.
Carr’s turnovers will be what everyone remembers from this game, but the Gophers nearly pulled off a huge road win. The eventual return of Payton Willis will likely take a few minutes away from Carr. It’s so difficult to expect him to play more than 40 minutes in a single game. In the future, Minnesota has to execute better in high-leverage situations. However, an experience like this is something they can build upon in Big Ten play.
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Tag(s): Gopher Basketball