GAME NOTES: Both the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Purdue Boilermakers will try to put an end to losing streaks as they clash head-to-head in a Big Ten Conference tilt at Mackey Arena.
Minnesota has lost two games in a row and three of its last four altogether. The Gophers are coming off a 55-54 narrow defeat at the hands of Northwestern, which dropped Minnesota below the .500 mark in Big Ten play at 4-5.
Purdue won three games in a row in the middle of January, but has since lost four consecutive contests in Big Ten action, including a 79-68 loss at Penn State Sunday. Purdue sits on a 3-6 record in the conference - five games back of Michigan State and Michigan for the Big Ten lead.
In this long-standing rivalry, Purdue holds the all-time series lead, 89-76. Minnesota, however, won the most recent contest, which was an 82-79 edging earlier this season on Jan. 5. It was Richard Pitino's first game against Purdue as the head of the program.
Minnesota got the ball down by one point with some time left on the clock against Northwestern, but a layup attempt fell short and the put-back was no good for the Gophers, who dropped their second straight contest. Maurice Walker netted 14 points to pace Minnesota in the loss, while Austin Hollins chipped in 13 points and grabbed six rebounds. The Golden Gophers connected on 46 percent of their shots in the game.
Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins are the top two scorers this season for Minnesota, with Andre leading the charge at 15.5 ppg on 41.3 percent shooting from the floor. Andre sprained his left ankle near the end of January and is out indefinitely for the Gophers. Austin checks in at second with 11.7 ppg, and DeAndre Mathieu isn't too far behind his total at 11.5 ppg. Elliott Eliason grabs an average of 8 rpg, and tops the squad with 53 blocked shots on the year. Mathieu has dished out a team-high 96 assists for the Gophers this season.
Penn State hit 11-of-13 from the free-throw line in the final minute and seven seconds of regulation to keep Purdue from making a comeback attempt in the Nittany Lions' defeat of the Boilermakers Sunday. A.J. Hammons netted 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the double-double, which were both game highs for Purdue. Ronnie Johnson scored 12 points, and Terone Johnson contributed 10 in the losing effort. Purdue shot 42.4 percent from the floor.
Terone Johnson leads the team this season ins scoring, netting 12.8 ppg on 41.8 percent shooting from the field. He's followed by Ronnie Johnson (10.7 ppg) and Hammons (10.4 ppg) as the three players are the only ones to average double-digit points for Purdue. Hammons tops the squad in rebounding with a 7.1 rpg average and 64 blocked shots, and Ronnie Johnson is the team leader with 79 assists on the year.
Purdue couldn't hang on to beat Minnesota the last time out, but that was on the road in hostile territory. Neither team has made much of an impact this season in the Big Ten, so with Purdue returning home to face an unranked team for the first time since Jan. 18, the Boilermakers should have the edge in starting momentum.
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