11 a.m. vs. Purdue • Williams Arena • ESPN2; 1130-AM, 103.5 FM
Purdue presents toughest task
Preview: The Gophers (13-5, 2-3 in conference) have only lost two straight games, but it seems like the season is going downhill without starters Reggie Lynch and Amir Coffey. Everything went wrong in Wednesday’s 83-60 loss against Northwestern in Rosemont, Ill. Minnesota was beaten on the boards 45-26, shot just 31 percent and allowed the Wildcats to shoot 50 percent from the field. Asking Richard Pitino’s team to try to bounce back against a top-5 opponent Saturday seems unrealistic. But the Gophers won 91-82 at Purdue last season in overtime, behind Nate Mason’s 31 points and 11 assists. The No. 5 Boilermakers (16-2, 5-0) arrive in Minneapolis with a 12-game winning streak, including conference road wins at Maryland 80-75 and at Michigan 70-69. The last time Purdue lost was in back-to-back games against Tennessee and Western Kentucky in Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas in November.
Players to watch: Junior guard Dupree McBrayer is averaging 14.8 points in 33.5 minutes in the last four games since returning from a two-game absence to recover from a lower leg injury. McBrayer still doesn’t participate in a full practice to rest his leg during the week. Purdue center Isaac Haas is averaging career-highs in points (14.8), rebounds (5.4), blocks (1.2) and free throw shooting (78.4) and field goal percentage (62.9) this season. He’s picked it up even more recently with 16 points and six rebounds per game in his last four games.
Numbers: Purdue’s 12-game winning streak is the second longest under coach Matt Painter. And the Boilermakers 5-0 Big Ten start is the program’s best since 1989-90.