The Gophers picked up their first win of Big 10 Conference play Sunday afternoon with a 82-79 win over Purdue at Williams Arena. Despite the sub-zero temperatures outside, the Gophers shot a blistering 52 percent from the field and made 11-of-24 from three point range in the win.
"Very excited for our team because for about 35 minutes of the game we played phenominal," head coach Richard Pitino said. "Certainly, you're up by and they cut it to three and you want to focus on the negatives but we've got to remember for about 80 percent of the game we played great defense, we rebounded the basketball, we were really efficient offensively. We're going to look back at this film and we're going to learn a lot."
After combining to shoot 4-for-19 in the Big 10 opener, Andre and Austin Hollins combined for 35 points including 6-for-12 from three point range.
"I think it was shot selection this game," said Andre Hollins who finished with 17 points. "We took better shots this game and executed well."
Hollins found himself at the free throw line early in the first half and found an aggressive balance finishing 9-for-11 at the line. Elliot Eliason played solid down low scoring 8 points but picking up 6 blocks.
"He played awesome," said Pitino. "He really rose to the challenge because A.J. Hammons is a very good player who we had a lot of respect for and Elliot stepped up."
Leading by seven at halftime, the Gophers opened the second half on a 18-6 run, building their lead to its highest 19. They kept the lead in double digits until there was less than three minutes remaining in the game and Purdue came charging back.
"We did a poor job of staying connected to a couple of their shooters," said Purdue coach Matt Painter. "We had poor switches and got behind plays and they were able to shoot some open threes. We just have to be more discplined on the defensive end."
With the win, the Gophers are now 12-3 on the season and even their conference record at 1-1. They will travel to Penn State on Wednesday for their first road test, then head to East Lansing to face Michigan State next Saturday afternoon.
For the second straight game, the Gophers struggled during the last five minutes of the game. They went the final 5:08 against Purdue without a field goal.
The team finished 23-for-27 at the free throw line led by Andre Hollins 9-for-11.