Gophers lose double-overtime battle at Purdue

Daniel Oturu had another monster game for the Gophers.
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Welp. The Gophers lost a heartbreaker on Thursday night, falling 83-78 to the Purdue Boilermakers on the road in double overtime.

Minnesota missed a shot to win in regulation, and two attempts to win at the buzzer in overtime after turning the ball over up one with less than twenty seconds left and Purdue needing to foul.

Daniel Oturu led them team with 29 points and 18 rebounds, while Marcus Carr played mostly fantastic, finishing with 27 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists before turning the ball over 4 times in the overtime periods. Oturu, Carr, and Gabe Kalscheur combined for 69 of the Gophers’ 78 points. The loss drops them to 7-6 on the year, 1-2 in the Big Ten.

“We scratched and clawed versus a really good team on their home court,” said coach Richard Pitino, describing his team’s effort as “the most proud I’ve been” before noting that the loss was “devastating.”

Indeed, it was. Here’s how it happened:

Turnovers. The Gophers have been sloppy all season, and tonight it bit them, hard. After losing the ball just four times in the first half, they went bonkers the next 30 minutes, finishing with 18 turnovers, 5 in the two overtimes. But that number doesn’t even begin to tell the story.

Up three with 40 seconds left in regulation and a three-point lead, Carr grabbed a Boilermakers miss and the Gophers were looking good. He dribbled the clock down to 24 seconds before losing the ball at the top of the key, which turned into a Purdue fast break culminating in an open three from Sasha Stefanovic to tie the game with 15 seconds left. Somehow, that wasn’t the worst of it.

Up one in overtime, an Alihan Demir steal gave them the ball with 18 seconds left and Purdue needing to foul. Carr proceeded to lose the ball again, this time giving it up essentially right in front of his own basket. Purdue’s Trevion Williams drew a foul, made a free throw, and the game went into a second overtime.

In that overtime, Carr turned the ball over with 3:21 left down two, then again on the next possession with 2:43 left down four. He finished with 8 turnovers. Carr is a fantastic player and the Gophers would’ve been dead in the water without him (we’ll get to that below), but man. Not a great final ten minutes from the point guard.

Bench scoring. On a night when Purdue’s bench scored 29 points, led by Matt Haarms’ 26, Minnesota’s contributed zero. The Gophers’ offense isn’t necessarily conducive to different guys going off each night, and the bench didn’t play bad, per se, with Jarvis Omersa again making a number of key hustle plays and Tre’ Williams giving solid starting for an injured Payton Willis, but it’s tough to beat good teams when getting literally no points from your bench.

Of course, it’s tough to score when you’re not in a rhythm, and it’s tough to get in a rhythm when not seeing regular playing time, as Kalscheur, Carr, Oturu, and Williams all logged at least 44 minutes. Pitino did start Omersa over Demir in the second half, but that was the bench’s most notable occurrence. Whether that changes at all is something to watch, but it was very apparent the starters were gassed by the end, with Carr and Oturu looking especially exhausted.

Free throw shooting. They didn’t lose the game because of free throws, as they were a solid 79% from the line on 15-19 attempts, but the contrast from how the game ended is worth mentioning.

After the Carr turnover in the first overtime, Williams, who came into the game shooting 45% from the line, stepped up with 6 seconds left and hit the one he needed to send it into a second overtime. They came back down six in that period, tying it on a Daniel Oturu and-one with 1:24 left. Oturu promptly missed the free throw, Stefanovic drilled another big three at the other end to put Purdue up three, and after a Gabe Kalscheur missed three, Williams went back to the line and knocked down two more.

Minnesota did go 4-5 from the line in the overtimes, so, again, that’s not why they lost, but when Purdue needed to hit theirs, they did, and when the Gophers had a chance to swing the game, they didn’t.

Regardless of how the ending turned out, there were positive takeaways, too:

Marcus Carr. He struggled down the stretch, but his first 38 minutes deserve heaps of praise. Carr kept the team in the game in the first half and put them on his back after Oturu was forced to the bench with four fouls in the second.

After Purdue jumped out to a 14-6 lead, Carr hit back-to-back threes, going on to score 11 of the Gophers’ first twenty points and 13 of their 30 before the break. He logged an insane 48 minutes, keeping the offense rolling as best it could before tiring, and played aggressively all night, getting Purdue stud defender Nojel Eastern onto the bench for much of the game after drawing three first-half fouls, which were admittedly 50-50 calls, while getting to the line 12 times and making 10 of his attempts.

But it was at the end of the game where he really made his mark. Carr got to the basket at will, consistently driving past a Purdue team known for its swarming defense, finishing a number of times with contact when fouls weren’t called. He missed a tough jumper at the end of regulation, and a tough finish at the rim in the first overtime, but that happens. You go down with the ball in the hands of your best playmaker, and that’s Carr.

Daniel Oturu. Oturu deserves a mention as well, if only to read his stat line again. 29 points, 24 of which came after halftime, and 18 rebounds, a few ticky-tack fouls of which put him on the bench and prevtented back-to-back 20-20 nights. He rebounded Carr’s miss in overtime and his tip-in to win the game rolled out, but he never stopped battling, drilling a last-ditch three to keep the game alive with 9 seconds left. Just an absurd talent. What else is there to say?

Rebounding. The Gophers gave up some big offensive rebounds at the end, but overall had a pretty good night on the boards, out-rebounding a physical Boilermakers team 50-41 and grabbing 20 offensive boards. Purdue plays four guys 6-7 or taller heavy minutes, with Harms (7-3, 250) and Williams (6-9, 270) both presences in the paint, and the Gophers more than held their own. That’s a good sign moving forward.

A win would’ve been great, and the loss is a very tough one to swallow. But Purdue has now won 15 straight Big Ten games at Mackey, and went undefeated at home last year, so the fact that the Gophers battled the way they did says a lot about this team.

Minnesota gets a few days off before hosting Northwestern on Sunday at Williams Arena. 

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