The difference having heroes or goats for Purdue basketball depended on a few key possessions on Thursday night in a double overtime game with Minnesota in Mackey Arena.
In the end, it was Matt Haarms’ career-best 26-point effort particularly in the second overtime period that made the difference and lifted Purdue (9-5, 2-1) to an 83-78 victory. Haarms had five points, two rebounds and an assist in the last 5-minute overtime period. He played 40:17 off the bench on Thursday, second on the team in playing time to Sasha Stefanovic's 46:22.
“It’s great to get a win like this,” Haarms said. “It shows that we can grind it out. The whole second half basically was just ugly. The lead changes, the ties. We just had to fight for it every step of the way. To go into overtime, then to go into double overtime shows this team has fight.”
Haarms is still rehabilitating from a concussion in the Dec. 15 game at Nebraska. He sat out two games after the Nebraska loss and played limited minutes last Saturday against Central Michigan.
“We didn’t want to play him as much as we did tonight, but we had to,” coach Matt Painter said. “I thought offensively, we did some good things. We missed him at times, just like we missed Trevion (Williams) at times. We need to do a better job at getting them the basketball, but between them they shot 26 shots, which isn’t awful. You can see defensively he’s instinctually so good, but he’s not back yet.”
Heroic, too were a couple of key shots by Stefanovic who was 5 of 8 on 3-pointers and scored 17. He made his first three from long distance to give the Boilers a 9-3 lead to start the game and didn’t hit a fourth one until 15 seconds in regulation. That fourth 3-pointer – after a steal, a block by Minnesota and then an offensive rebound by Trevion Williams with his pass back outside the arc – tied the game at 62 with 15 seconds to go. The shot rescued the Boilers after they trailed by as many as five with 3:20 to go in regulation.
“I noticed we were down by 3 and Trevion got that rebound and I know I am not really going to get a layup in that situation so I figured I might as well fan out for the 3,” Stefanovic said.
That set the stage for heroics from Haarms and Stefanoic in the second overtime period.
Stefanovic hit his fifth 3-pointer in double overtime to break a 75-75 tie with 1:11 to go. Purdue did not trail after that.
“He’s got off to a lot of good starts at home and he got off to another good start, so it was great to see him finish that out,” Painter said of Stefanovic. “I think in the second overtime him making that big 3 on a pin down – I think it was Kalscheur did a good job of guarding him, he didn’t have much space and Sasha shot it on the run. That’s important.
“When you have guys that can shoot, that helps, but when you have guys who can move and shoot like both teams have that really helps you – especially in situations like that when you are not going to get a lot of breathing room.”
Cold. Blooded. Twice. 🥶🥶🥶 pic.twitter.com/dVo26Ss6HC— Purdue Mens Basketball (@BoilerBall) January 3, 2020
Missed free throws almost cost Purdue the game. It was 14 of 23 from the line. Particularly frustrating for Purdue was early free throw shooting – it was 2 of 4 from the line in the first half, 4 of 7 in the second, but went 8 of 12 in the two overtime sessions.
The game was very competitive. The two teams were tied 13 times and the lead changed 16 times during the 50 minutes of play.
Purdue had a slim one-point halftime lead, 31-30, even though it led by as many as eight early. In the early part of the second half, the Boilers once again regained an eight-point advantage, 47-39, with 14:24 to go. It matched that lead at 49-41 with 12:01 left in regulation.
Slowly, Minnesota edged back into the game. It was Oturu who almost single handedly brought the Gophers back. Over the next 3 and 1/2 minutes plus, he hit a pair of two-point field goals and a 3. Carr also hit one of two free throws during that span. Minnesota tied the game at 49 with 8:42 remaining.
With 2:45 to go, the Gophers built a five-point lead, 62-57, on a Carr two-pointer in the paint. However, that was the last points Minnesota would score in regulation. During the next 2 and 1/2 minutes, Minnesota missed three shots and had two turnovers, Haarms dunked the ball and Stefanovic hit the before-mentioned 3-pointer to tie the game and send it into the first extra period.
During the first OT, neither team got more than a 2-point lead. Then Purdue scored the first six of the second overtime led by Haarms. Minnesota was able to tie it again, 75-75 on a pair of free throws by Tre' Williams.
But a Stefanovic's 3, followed by a pair of free throws by Purdue's Williams and a single one by Haarms, made the lead six again, 81-75, with 20 seconds left. And that was enough of a cushion to secure the win.
In addition to Haarms and Stefanovic, two Boilermakers scored in double figures – Eric Hunter Jr. (16) and Trevion Williams (14).
Rebounding, which has been a strength of the team, wasn’t there at times, either. The Gophers out-boarded Purdue, 50-41. And turnovers were a problem in regulation, but not in overtime.
Another plus for Purdue was bench scoring. The Boilers won that battle, 29-0.
“The game comes down to a play or two in regulation and overtime,” Painter said. “Obviously, this game could have gone either way. So, we were very fortunate to win, but I am still proud of our guys – being able to especially make our free throws, or make enough free throws down the stretch.”
Minnesota starters, until they wore out at the end, were good. Very good. The season’s leading scorer, Daniel Oturu who averages a double-double did not disappoint. He had 29 points and 18 rebounds in 46 minutes of play.
Marcus Carr, who played 48:02 of the 50 minutes, scored 27. He was 7 of 16 from the field – including 3 of 5 from 3-point range – and 10 of 12 from the line.
“Carr is not a guy who is a high volume 3-point shooter and so for him, he normally gets his 3s as he kinda gets going,” Painter said. “He’s pretty streaky from 3, but he’s so good off the bounce to make plays and get to the rim. He made a couple of those 3s after we substituted in the first half. We thought we were in a good spot and then Nojel (Eastern) gets three fouls in the first half.”
For Eastern, it was perseverance.
“Good players like him are always going to keep coming at you,” he said. “He’s going to make plays, he’s going to make big plays, he’s going to get to the rim, but he’s the No. 1 player who plays the most amount of minutes in the game … we had to keep coming at him and keep getting stops. We just stayed aggressive … the goal was to win no matter how many points he had. The goal was to win, which we did today.”
Knowing Carr has played all those minutes meant Eastern might have an advantage.
“We knew he was a little worn out, so we tried to get into him a little more,” Eastern said.
In the end though, Painter credited Eastern’s defense on Carr as the key factor in Purdue’s win.
"In my opinion, it was the difference," Painter said. "Nojel defended him at the end of the game and Carr’s fatigue. Nojel’s on him and he’s fresh when he gets into the game. To his defense, he’s pretty good and pretty shifty and causes people a lot of problems, but I thought Nojel did a good job there at the end. And it really helped us because Carr didn’t score at the end.”
Oturu and Carr combined for 71.2 percent of Minnesota’s offense. Gabe Kalscheur was the final Minnesota starter in double figures with 13 points.
So, Purdue found a way to win the game when it was outrebounded by 9 and had 2 fewer steals. On the flip side, Purdue had more 3s – Boilers were 11 of 25 from long range while the Gophers were 9 of 26 and had 20 assists compared to 13 for the visitors.
Purdue was 29 of 68 from the field for 42.6 percent while Minnesota was 27 of 74 for 36.5 percent.
The Boilermakers return to action at 8 p.m. Sunday when they visit Illinois. The Illini (9-5, 1-2) lost to Michigan State, 76-56, in East Lansing on Thursday night.
• Purdue's win moved the Boilermakers into sole possession of second place in the Big Ten with a 2-1 mark. The Minnesota at Purdue and Illinois at Michigan State games were the only pair of for the third games for conference teams in the 20-game schedule.
• Through the first 30 games of the Big Ten season only one team has lost a home game – Northwestern (0-2). Michigan State (3-0) won in Evanston in December. Other than that, all other 12 teams have won their home games and lost on the road.
• Purdue improved to 9-5 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten with an 83-78 double-overtime win over Minnesota … the win improved Purdue's all-time record against Minnesota to 105-83, including 41-7 all-time at Mackey Arena … the win was Purdue's 11th in its last 12 games at home against Minnesota.
• The win was Purdue's 14th straight Big Ten win in Mackey Arena, now tied for the second-longest streak in school history (behind Jan. 6, 1968 to Feb. 14, 1970).
• The win was Purdue's first in a multi-overtime game since a 77-74 win over Minnesota in triple overtime on Feb. 5, 2014 … it was Purdue's first win in double-overtime since Feb. 13, 1993, vs. Wisconsin (90-87).
• Over the last four games, Purdue is now 41 of 95 (.432) from 3-point range after going 11 of 25 from deep vs. Minnesota.
• Purdue is now 8-7 in the first game of the calendar year under Matt Painter.
• Purdue sold out its 16th straight home game, dating to last season.
• Purdue improved to 26-4 when Matt Haarms scores in double-digits during his career.
• Purdue is 33-5 since the start of 2017-18 when making double-digit 3-pointers.
• Purdue is 28-1 since the start of last season when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent.
• Purdue is 70-5 (.933) at Mackey Arena since the start of the 2015-16 season … the 70 wins are the sixth most nationally.
• Purdue is 44-4 (.917) at Mackey Arena against Big Ten teams since the start of the 2014-15 season.
• Matt Haarms scored a career-high 26 points with nine rebounds and three assists … he was 11 of 16 from the field.
• Sasha Stefanovic scored 17 points, including a game-tying 3-pointer with 13 seconds left in regulation … his 3-pointer with just over a minute left in the second overtime gave Purdue a 78-75 lead.
• Eric Hunter Jr. scored 16 points with a career-high seven rebounds.
– Purdue Athletics Communications contributed to this report.