FACTS & STATS: Site: Mackey Arena (14,123) -- West Lafayette, Indiana. Television: CBS. Home Record: Minnesota 11-1, Purdue 11-0. Away Record: Minnesota 2-3, Purdue 4-3. Neutral Record: Minnesota 3-0, Purdue 2-1. Conference Record: Minnesota 5-3, Purdue 6-2. Series Record: Purdue leads, 95-80.
GAME NOTES: Ranked foes in the Big Ten Conference meet in West Lafayette today, as No. 16 Minnesota tangles with No. 12 Purdue.
Since going 1-3 to start Big Ten play, the Gophers have won four in a row to sit at 5-3 in conference and 16-4 overall. Their most recent win occurred at home over a pesky Northwestern squad on Wednesday night, as Minnesota won by double figures after trailing by a point at the break. Sporting a 2-3 record in true road games this season, UM is hoping to actually record its second straight win on enemy hardwood after notching a 69-64 victory at Michigan last Saturday.
Purdue has dropped three of its last five games to fall to 17-4 overall and 6-2 in conference. The team's most recent outing took place at No. 1 Ohio State on Tuesday, and resulted in an embarrassing 87-64 defeat. Still, the Boilermakers should play with confidence today knowing that they have won all 11 games played at home thus far.
Purdue owns a 95-80 advantage in the all-time series with Minnesota, but the Gophers have won the last two meetings. The two teams met earlier this month in Minneapolis, with the home team prevailing in a 70-67 final.
Blake Hoffarber scored 20 points to lead five players in double figures, as Minnesota got past Northwestern earlier this week in an 81-70 final. Trevor Mbakwe put forth a monster effort, netting 18 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, while Colton Iverson (15 points, six rebounds), Ralph Sampson III (14 points, five boards) and Austin Hollins (10 points) had solid outings as well. The Gophers shot 46.4 percent from the field, but missed nine of their 11 three- point attempts. Northwestern knocked down 12 three-pointers, but did so on 39 attempts (.307), while shooting just 37.9 percent from the floor overall. Hoffarber and Mbakwe are the two most productive players for UM this year, averaging 14.1 and 13.4 ppg, respectively, with the former handing out 4.4 apg and the latter coming up with 10.5 rpg. As a team, the Gophers are putting up 73.3 ppg on 47 percent field goal efficiency, while permitting 67.3 ppg on 39.2 percent shooting.
JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore were at it again for Purdue in its recent clash with top-ranked Ohio State, netting 22 and 16 points, respectively. Unfortunately they got little help from their teammates as the Boilermakers lost by 23 on the road. The Buckeyes put six guys in double figures, shooting 55.2 percent from the field and draining 11-of-19 three-point tries, while Purdue made good on just 38.1 percent of its total shots and was outrebounded by a 42-28 margin. Johnson (20.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Moore (18.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.4 apg) are as productive a duo as there is nationally, and the Boilermakers would likely be Big Ten bottom feeders if not for the big two. Collectively, Purdue is averaging 74.5 ppg in hitting 45.5 percent of its field goal attempts and 38.3 percent from beyond the arc. Defensively, the team yields just 60.7 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of 41.4 percent overall, and 34.0 percent from long range. Favorable margins in both rebounding (+2.9) and turnovers (+4.9) have helped the cause as well.
With revenge on their minds, expect the Boilermakers to ride Johnson and Moore to victory in what should be a close game throughout.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Purdue 72, Minnesota 66