WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Having lost its three most recent games leading into Christmas break, Purdue was greeted in its first post-holiday practice by a routine of painful wall sits, mixed with sprints to the opposite baseline.
The drills hammered home coach Matt Painter’s message that losing is not acceptable, and the Boilermakers rallied from an 11-point, second-half deficit Wednesday to defeat Minnesota 72-68 in the Big Ten opener for each team.
“We grew up,” said Rapheal Davis, who scored 18 points including Purdue’s final four. “We stayed in it and kept everyone’s spirits high. We became a better team today. We were up, and I saw our young guys grow up during that game. We focused, settled down and good things happened for us.
“I can’t speak for the other guys, but coming into crunch time, I was thinking about the wall sits we were doing the other day in practice. It was a big win.”
Kendall Stephens scored 19 for Purdue, A.J. Hammons added 11 points and nine rebounds and Jon Octeus had 10 points and four assists.
“This experience was really big for us. Coach kind of addressed the whole aspect of looking cool and playing cool in practice. He set us up to be successful at the end, and it really paid off,” said Stephens, who scored 16 second-half points, making 6 of 10 field-goal attempts during the pivotal final 20 minutes.
Painter indicated practices will continue to include wall sits and sprints.
“We have to learn to get in a defensive stance,” Painter said, “and those kinds of things in practice help with that.”
Davis made two free throws with 19 seconds left and then a dunk with 3.8 remaining. Davis was 10 of 10 from the foul line. His two free throws with 2:15 left gave Purdue (9-5) the lead for good, 64-62.
Joey King and Maurice Walker scored 13 apiece for Minnesota (11-3), which had its eight-game winning streak snapped.
Minnesota coach Richard Pitino thought Stephens brought Purdue back.
“When Stephens hit those three’s, that really got the building alive,” Pitino said. “That was the first time, really, where that building kind of took over a little bit. I thought we had controlled the crowd in the first half.”
Vince Edwards made two free throws with 4:56 left to give the Boilermakers a 60-58 lead, their first since it was 4-2. Raphael Davis’ dunk off a steal extended the lead to 62-58. Minnesota scored the next four to tie it at 62.
Isaac Haas’ putback and Stephens’ 3-pointer had pulled Purdue to within 56-53 with 6:55 to play, prompting a Minnesota timeout. Stephens tied it at 56 with a 3-pointer at the 6:07 mark, but Maurice Walker pushed Minnesota ahead seconds later. Haas made two free throws at the 5:28 mark to tie it again at 58.
Purdue got within 48-42, but Mathieu’s 3-pointer made it 51-42. Carlos Morris scored with 9:36 left to give the Golden Gophers a 55-44 advantage.
Minnesota: The Gophers had won eight a row since losing to No. 15 St. John’s on Nov. 26. … The Golden Gophers only other loss was Nov. 14 to No. 5 Louisville. … Minnesota entered the Purdue game leading the Big Ten in 3-point percentage, assists, steals and turnover margin.
Purdue: After a 6-1 start, the Boilermakers lost four of six, including three in a row. … Sophomore guard Bryson Scott started in place of freshman Vince Edwards, who has been battling the flu. … Kendall Stephens became the 21st Boilermaker with at least 100 made 3-pointers.
Minnesota visits Maryland on Saturday.
Purdue hosts Michigan on Saturday.
Including Minnesota’s 8 of 16 from beyond the arc, Purdue’s past four opponents have made a collective 39 of 72 shots from 3-point range (54.2 percent). … Rapheal Davis and freshman forward Vince Edwards were a combined 14 of 14 from the free-throw line for the Boilermakers.
After going 1 of 5 from 3-point range in the first half, Stephens was a perfect 3 of 3 during the final 20 minutes when he literally carried Purdue back from a double-digit deficit, scoring 16 points.
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