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Gophers top Illinois to continue roll entering big game at Purdue

Minnesota has won three of four with their only loss on a buzzer beater.

We'll spare you the "it was freezing outside but red-hot inside" commentary, but that's sort of what it was for the Gophers as they exacted revenged with an 86-75 win over Illinois on Wednesday night. 

Minnesota started out slow on a night when it was -20F outside Williams Arena and actually trailed 39-37 at the half, but a balanced scoring attack fueled the Gophers to a big second half in which they outscored Illinois 49-36. 

Amir Coffey led five Gophers in double figures with 18 points and six assists. Jordan Murphy scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season, which is tied with South Dakota State star Mike Daum for the second-most in Division I men's basketball

Isaiah Washington scored 12 points off the bench and true freshmen Gabe Kalscheur (14 points) and Daniel Oturu (11 points, eight rebounds) each contributed key minutes. It was Oturu's first game off the bench after sitting out with an injury in Minnesota's win over Iowa on Sunday. 

The Gophers (16-5 overall, 6-4 Big Ten) have now won three of four and their only loss came at the buzzer to sixth-ranked Michigan. Minnesota has a huge conference game at No. 17 Purdue (14-6 overall, 7-2 Big Ten) on Sunday. 

A win at Purdue would be huge for Minnesota's NCAA Tournament hopes. The Gophers already have three wins who are/were ranked when they played: Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, not to mention a win over Pac-12 leader Washington. 

The official attendance of the Gophers-Illinois game was 9,565, which isn't half bad considering how cold it was outside. 

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