No. 2 Purdue rallies past Gophers

Purdue center Zach Edey (15) celebrates being fouled on a basket with guard Lance Jones (55) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Minnesota in West Lafayette, Ind., Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

WEST LAFAYETTE (AP) — Zach Edey overcame a slow start with 24 points and 15 rebounds as No. 2 Purdue rallied from a 10-point deficit to defeat Minnesota 84-76 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (23-2, 12-2 Big Ten), who trailed by 10 after the opening possession of the second half, turned to their 7-foot-4 senior All-American center to help lead the comeback. The reigning national player of the year shook off 3-of-9 shooting in the first half by moving closer to the basket with three dunks, the last slam pushing Purdue ahead 57-55 with 12:27 remaining.

Point guard Braden Smith had 16 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for Purdue, which improved to 43-3 at home in the last three years, including 7-0 in Big Ten play this season. Mason Gillis hit four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points. Lance Jones added 12.

The Gophers (15-9, 6-7) stunned Purdue early by going 9 of 16 on 3-pointers in the first half. Four different shooters hit 3s during a 19-3 run.

But then Minnesota went just 3 of 9 from long range in the second half.

Despite a roster with only three seniors, third-year Minnesota coach Ben Johnson’s resurgent squad has improved dramatically from 9-22 last season. But the Gophers lack a signature road win in conference play, dropping to 2-5 in Big Ten away games.

Dawson Garcia led the Gophers with 24 points, including three 3s. Mike Mitchell Jr. scored 14 with four 3-pointers. Cam Christie finished with 13 points, the freshman’s fourth consecutive double-digit game. He also hit three 3s.


Minnesota: The Gophers showed they can play with one of the best teams in the country, albeit for one half. But when the 3-point shooting cooled off, so did Minnesota. This team has scoring balance and could be dangerous at tournament time, presuming it can shoot well consistently.

Purdue: What looked easy in the opening minutes proved anything but as the Boilermakers were visibly frustrated at times. But the second half reminded why these Boilermakers are battle tested and not going to rattle when facing adversity. This team seems much better equipped for the NCAA Tournament than the No. 1 seed that was stunned in the opening round a year ago.


Minnesota: Hosts Rutgers on Sunday.

Purdue: Visits Ohio State on Sunday.