MINNEAPOLIS — — For more than 38 minutes of action, Purdue had held Minnesota’s leading scorer in check. But Marcus Carr ended the game in style, giving the Golden Gophers a dramatic comeback victory.
Carr finished with 19 points, including eight in the final 1:08, to lift Minnesota past No. 24 Purdue 71-68 on Thursday.
Gabe Kalscheur broke out of a shooting slump to score 16 points, Brandon Johnson scored 15 and Liam Robbins added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota (12-7, 5-7 Big Ten), which trailed by five with 2 minutes to play.
In a sluggish game in which both teams struggled from 3-point range, Minnesota finally got hot at the end.
Purdue led 64-59 before Robbins hit a jumper, and after a Purdue turnover, Carr came up with a loose ball and drained a long 3-pointer to tie the game at 64 with just over a minute to play.
After a timeout, Purdue worked the ball inside to Williams, who missed twice but came up with the rebound both times. He was successful on his third attempt, a dunk that gave Purdue a two-point lead with 51 seconds to play.
Carr tied the game again with a pair of free throws. Williams answered with an up-and-under move to beat Robbins for a layup. But the Gophers responded immediately, as Carr banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put Minnesota ahead 69-68 with 14 seconds left.
“He made some big-time shots,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “The one thing about Marcus and all of these guys, I want them to feel free to go make some plays.”
So, despite making five of his first 16 shots, Carr had the green light to keep shooting. In the end, it worked out, even if one of his huge shots came off a scramble and the other went in off the backboard.
“I’m not sure if you guys could hear it, but he called out ‘bank,’” Pitino said.
Kalscheur hit two free throws, giving Minnesota a 71-68 lead, and Sasha Stefanovich’s last-second 3-pointer came up short, leaving the Boilermakers to lament a handful of bad breaks.
“That’s life on the road, man — everything doesn’t always go your way,” Williams said. “We’ve just got to be better in the future, trying to put games away, so we don’t even have to go through that.”
“We allowed it to be close, and that’s what happens in close games,” Painter added. “We’ve just got to be one possession better.”
Williams, who was held to eight points in Purdue’s victory over Northwestern on Saturday, came up huge against Minnesota, especially in the first half, when he scored 13 straight Purdue points in one crucial stretch.
Minnesota surged to an early seven-point lead on the strength of three straight baskets by freshman Jamal Mashburn Jr. But the Gophers missed 10 of their next 12 shots, and the Boilermakers took advantage.
Williams helped launch a 15-2 run with a three-point play and a jumper. Hunter fed Aaron Wheeler for an alley-oop dunk, then knocked down a jumper of his own to give Purdue a 30-24 lead.
COLD AS ICE
On a day when the outside temperature was below zero degrees Fahrenheit at tip-off, both teams were chilly from long distance, but one of them found its shooting stroke just in time. Minnesota was 3 for 19 from beyond the arc before hitting four of its last five attempts — two apiece by Kalscheur and Carr.
Kalscheur had made just four of 23 3-pointers in his last four games, including a 1-for-9 showing against Nebraska on Monday.
Meanwhile, Purdue connected on 2 of 17 3-pointers, missing 12 straight at one point. Painter said he wasn’t discouraged.
“We had a couple that we’d like to have back … but for the most part I thought they were pretty good shots,” he said. “They just didn’t go down. It happens.
“Your toughness, your defense, your rebounding, that travels. Sometimes your jump shot doesn’t travel. I think that’s a true statement in competitive basketball. We were really close to being able to grind this one out.”
Purdue: The Boilermakers haven’t won consecutive games since their four-game winning streak was snapped on Jan. 22.
Minnesota: The Gophers improved to 13-1 at home. The victory was a dramatic turnaround from the teams’ Jan. 30 matchup at Purdue, when Minnesota led by 14 in the first half but ended up losing 81-62.
“We wore down last time,” Pitino said. “We’re not going to allow ourselves to wear down. Experience is big. Going through that the first time was huge. I thought our guys understood.”
Purdue: The Boilermakers are off until Tuesday, when they host Michigan State. In their first meeting this season, Purdue pulled out a 55-54 victory in East Lansing.
Minnesota: The Gophers travel to Maryland on Sunday, looking to avenge a 14-point home loss to the Terrapins on Jan. 23.