No. 21 Minnesota looks to bounce back vs. Purdue
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For No. 21 Minnesota, offense is a tenuous balancing act. Its best player is point guard Marcus Carr, who averages 20.9 points and 5.2 assists per game.
But Carr's 25 points this past Saturday weren't nearly enough to help the Golden Gophers stave off Maryland's upset bid in Minneapolis. The Terrapins posted a 63-49 Big Ten Conference victory as Carr's teammates combined to hit 6-of-32 shots.
That led to a stat line unlike any this season. Carr's 25 points, zero assists and four turnovers marked the first time any Division I player put up those numbers while playing the full 40 minutes.
When Minnesota (11-5, 4-5) tries to get back in the win column Saturday night at Purdue, Carr will again walk the line between finding his shot while getting his teammates going.
"I'm not sure anybody but him was great from the offensive side of it," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "We've got to look at what we're doing."
It's not that Minnesota doesn't have other players capable of enjoying big games. Liam Robbins averages 13.3 points, while Both Gach, Gabe Kalscheur and Brandon Johnson can all go for 20 points on any night.
But when the operation falls so squarely on one person's shoulders, as the Gophers do with Carr, its margin for error diminishes. To put it another way, Carr averages at least 40 percent of the team's 76.9 points between his points and what he provides for others.
For his part, Carr told said that he tries to gauge the flow of a game when he decides to look for his shot or pass for profit.
"It's kind of just seeing how the other team is going to play us," he said. "What the game plan is and also how other guys are feeling. I always do want to get other guys involved early."
Meanwhile, the Boilermakers (11-6, 6-4) are also coming off a loss. Big Ten front-runner Michigan walked into Mackey Arena on Jan. 22 and did a defensive number on them in a 70-53 decision.
Purdue shot just 30.8 percent from the field, including a dismal 2 of 12 on 3-pointers, as it was held to a season-low point total. The Boilermakers never led and never really put together a serious run. Their best scoring "run" was a 5-0 spurt.
It didn't help that the conference's top 3-point shooter, Sasha Stefanovic, sat out due to a positive COVID-19 test. Stefanovic, who sinks 45.6 percent from distance and averages 11.1 points, will also miss this game and a Tuesday encounter with Maryland before he's allowed to return.
"He's a steady piece for us who can stretch the defense, knowing he's the best percentage 3-point shooter in the league," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Just his experience ... He helps balance out those inexperienced guys because he plays 30 minutes per game."
Trevion Williams leads the Boilermakers' attack, averaging 15.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
This is the first of two meetings between the teams in 13 days.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 28, 2021