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Minneapolis — After the students streamed onto the court in celebration of a critical victory over Purdue, the five seniors on Minnesota’s roster each took turns with the microphone to thank the fans in another indelible moment from their last home game.

In a season marked by missed opportunities, the Gophers produced a winning finish and in the process denied the Boilermakers’ bid for an outright Big Ten title.

Amir Coffey matched his career high with 32 points, making two free throws with 2.5 seconds left on Tuesday night to seal Minnesota’s 73-69 victory over No. 11 Purdue and give the Gophers a big boost for an NCAA Tournament berth.

“When you’re a young coach and you’re trying to build, that’s really, really important and very, very rewarding to see your guys experience that,” said coach Richard Pitino, who promised his team a win in this game would get them in the tournament he’s taken the Gophers to once in his first five years.

Carsen Edwards scored 22 points for Purdue (22-8, 15-4), but he needed 31 shots to get there and finished just 3 for 15 from 3-point range. The Boilermakers, who had their five-game winning streak broken and lost for only the second time in their last 15 games, fell into a three-way tie for first place in the conference with Michigan and Michigan State. The Wolverines and Spartans play each other this weekend, so the best the Boilermakers can do is tie for the regular-season title.

“Just kind of silly mistakes that we made at the end that we don’t normally make. On the road it’s always tough to close out games, and we were just unable to do it tonight,” said Grady Eifert, who had 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Nojel Eastern had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Boilermakers, who had a 21-9 edge in second-chance points but made only nine of 18 foul shots.

Jordan Murphy scored all 13 of his points in the first half to go with 14 rebounds for the Gophers (19-11, 9-10), providing his usual yeoman’s effort underneath to help offset a season-long struggle with the 3-point shot. Fellow seniors Dupree McBrayer (10 points, four rebounds, four assists) and Matz Stockman (nine points, six rebounds, seven blocks) also played key roles.

Coffey, a junior point guard, was coming off his first career double-double with 31 points and 12 rebounds in a win Thursday at Northwestern. He chipped in stout defense on Edwards, too.

“I’m proud of him,” Murphy said. “He helped send us off in one of the best ways we could go.”

Ryan Cline scored 19 points for Purdue, making six of nine 3-pointers including a pair that came 23 seconds apart sandwiching a turnover by Minnesota and cut the lead to 64-61 with 3:06 left. The Gophers were up 68-61 after McBrayer made two free throws with 2:05 remaining, but Coffey missed three of four free throws on consecutive possessions before a 3-pointer by Edwards brought the Boilermakers to 71-69 with 5.2 seconds to go.

The Gophers nearly had the ball stolen on an errant inbound pass but maintained possession after a replay review. The next time they got the ball safely to Coffey for the final pair of foul shots.

“With their transition offense, our bad shots are like turnovers,” Cline said, “and they’re obviously producing points and they’re getting to the rim.”

The Gophers included in pregame warmups senior Jarvis Johnson, an acclaimed hometown recruit who was prevented from playing at all in college by a heart condition. McBrayer received an especially big ovation as he hugged his aunt, standing in for his late mother, Tayra McFarlane, who died on Dec. 3 of cancer .

Pitino, who also addressed the crowd after the game, predicted that Murphy, who’s the second-leading rebounder in Big Ten history and in sixth place and climbing on the program’s career scoring list, would eventually have his No. 3 jersey retired.

The Boilermakers have one of the most efficient offenses in the country, but the Gophers gave them plenty of trouble, particularly in the paint. Matt Haarms, the 7-foot-3 sophomore who brought the best field goal percentage (64.5) in the Big Ten into the game, missed seven of his eight shots and finished with just three points.

Stockman played a big part. The 7-foot transfer from Louisville, wrapping up his only season at Minnesota, ably assumed a much larger role with backup big man Eric Curry lost to a foot injury.

“I figured if I just stayed physical with Haarms throughout the game, it would take him out of his game,” Stockman said.

The Boilermakers, who had won 47 of their last 57 regular-season Big Ten games, received zero points from their bench players.

“If you watched the game,” coach Matt Painter lamented, “we couldn’t play them.”

State men

(At) Eastern Michigan 68, Ball State 61:  James Thompson IV had 20 points and 23 rebounds as Eastern Michigan beat Ball State.

Thompson, who had eight offensive and 15 defensive boards, set a program record for rebounds in a career with 1,432, breaking Kennedy McIntosh’s record, which stood for 47 years.

Paul Jackson had 17 points for Eastern Michigan (15-15, 9-8 Mid-American Conference). Elijah Minnie added 13 points and three blocks.

Tahjai Teague had 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for the Cardinals (15-15, 6-11). Tayler Persons added 13 points. K.J. Walton had 10 points and seven rebounds.

The Eagles improve to 2-0 against the Cardinals on the season. Eastern Michigan defeated Ball St. 84-82 on Jan. 8. Eastern Michigan finishes out the regular season against Toledo on the road on Friday. Ball St. finishes out the regular season against Northern Illinois at home on Friday.

(At) Toledo 76, Western Michigan 57: Nate Navigato had 17 points to lead five Toledo players in double figures as the Rockets got past Western Michigan to clinch its second-straight Mid-American Conference West Division title.

Chris Darrington added 12 points for the Rockets. Spencer Littleson chipped in 11, Marreon Jackson scored 10 and Willie Jackson had 10.

Michael Flowers had 21 points for the Broncos (8-22, 2-15), who have now lost four games in a row. Josh Davis added 12 points. Seth Dugan had 12 points and nine rebounds.

The Rockets improve to 2-0 against the Broncos this season. Toledo defeated Western Michigan 85-77 on Jan. 12. Toledo (24-6, 12-5) will pursue its fifth consecutive victory on Friday in the team’s regular season finale against Eastern Michigan at home. Western Michigan finishes out the regular season against Central Michigan at home on Friday.

Northern Illinois 89, (at) Central Michigan 86:  Levi Bradley, who was a near perfect 13-for-14 from the foul line, had 26 points as Northern Illinois narrowly beat Central Michigan.

Eugene German had 19 points and seven rebounds for Northern Illinois (14-16, 7-10 Mid-American Conference), which ended its five-game road losing streak. Dante Thorpe added 16 points. Lacey James had 16 points and 19 rebounds for the visiting team.

Shawn Roundtree had 23 points for the Chippewas (20-10, 9-8). Larry Austin Jr. added 19 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. David DiLeo had 17 points.

The Huskies evened the season series against the Chippewas with the win. Central Michigan defeated Northern Illinois 78-69 on Jan. 15. Northern Illinois finishes out the regular season against Ball State on the road on Friday. Central Michigan finishes out the regular season against Western Michigan on the road on Friday.

Top 25

No. 3 North Carolina 79, Boston College 66: Luke Maye had 17 points and a career-high 20 rebounds to lead North Carolina over Boston College and preserve the Tar Heels’ hopes for a regular-season conference title.

Cameron Johnson had 22 points and 12 rebounds for Carolina (25-5, 15-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which won its sixth straight game and went unbeaten on the road in the league for the first time since 2008.

Ky Bowman had 23 points and nine rebounds, and Nik Popovic scored 20 for Boston College, which has not beaten the Tar Heels in 12 tries since 2010. The Eagles (14-15, 5-12) have lost four of five overall, and eight of their last 11.

(At) No. 4 Duke 71, Wake Forest 70: RJ Barrett scored 28 points and No. 4 Duke held on to beat Wake Forest  after Chaundee Brown’s jumper rimmed out at the buzzer.

Tre Jones added 13 points for a sluggish Duke team missing star freshman Zion Williamson for a fourth straight game with a sprained right knee. The Blue Devils (26-4, 14-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) overcame 41 percent shooting and a 16-for-26 showing from the free-throw line to win their 10th straight in the in-state series.

The Blue Devils trailed by 10 with 16 minutes remaining and never led by more than three until the final three minutes.

(At) No. 5 Tennessee 71, Mississippi State 54: Admiral Schofield scored 18 points in his final home game, and Tennessee notched its 26th straight home victory.

Tennessee (27-3, 15-2 Southeastern Conference) moved into sole possession of first place in the SEC, a half-game ahead of No. 10 LSU, which plays at Florida on Wednesday.

The regular season ends Saturday when Tennessee visits Auburn and LSU hosts Vanderbilt. If the teams finish in a tie, LSU would get the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament next week because it beat Tennessee in their only meeting.

Grant Williams had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Tennessee. Jordan Bowden added 12 points.

Tyson Carter scored 14 points and Reggie Perry and Robert Woodard II each added 10 points for Mississippi State (21-9, 9-8), which shot just 33.3 percent (19 of 57).

No. 6 Kentucky 80, (at) Mississippi 76: Keldon Johnson scored 22 points and Tyler Herro added 20 to send Kentucky past Mississippi.

PJ Washington had 13 points – all in the second half – to help the Wildcats (25-5, 14-3 Southeastern Conference) ward off a tough challenge from the Rebels.

Ole Miss (19-11, 9-8) has lost three straight and four of five. The Rebels trimmed their deficit to 78-76 with six seconds left, but Immanuel Quickly made two free throws to put the game out of reach.

Terence Davis led the Rebels with 25 points on his Senior Night. Breein Tyree added 21.

(At) Oklahoma 81, No. 13 Kansas 68: Kristian Doolittle had 24 points and 11 rebounds and Oklahoma ended Kansas’ run of Big 12 regular-season titles at 14 years.

The last time Kansas didn’t at least tie for the conference crown, Oklahoma State won it outright in 2003-04. Now, Kansas State and Texas Tech remain in contention for the championship.

Brady Manek scored 21 points and Rashard Odomes added 12 for Oklahoma (19-11, 7-10 Big 12).

Dedric Lawson had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Kansas (22-8, 11-6). David McCormack added 18 points for the Jayhawks.

(At) No. 14 Florida State 73, No. 15 Virginia Tech 64, OT: M.J. Walker scored nine of his 11 points after halftime, including a critical 3-pointer in overtime, and Florida State rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit.

Mfiondu Kabengele scored 13 points in the second half and overtime and Florida State improved to 15-1 at home this season and tied the program record with 12 Atlantic Coast Conference wins.

With the win, Florida State (24-6, 12-5) clinched the No. 4 seed in next week’s ACC Tournament and a double bye. Virginia Tech (22-7, 11-6) is locked into the No. 5 seed.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 19 points to pace Virginia Tech.

No. 17 Nevada 90, (at) Air Force 79: Jazz Johnson scored a career-high 27 points and hit seven of his team’s 13 shots from 3-point range in leading Nevada.

Cody Martin added 18 points and twin brother Caleb contributed 16 as the Wolf Pack (27-3, 14-3 Mountain West Conference) beat Air Force for a seventh straight time.

Jordan Caroline finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Air Force (13-16, 8-9). It was his 17th double-double of the season.

Utah State clinched at least a share of the Mountain West title by beating the Rams in overtime Tuesday. Nevada can join the Aggies atop the league standings by defeating San Diego State on Saturday.

Air Force dropped to 4-85 against ranked opponents.

Ryan Swan led Air Force with 21 points, and Lavelle Scottie added 13. Scottie became the 26th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points.

No. 19 Buffalo 82, (at) Ohio 79: Jeremy Harris scored 20 points as Buffalo locked up the Mid-American Conference regular-season title and a top seed in the conference tournament.

Nick Perkins and CJ Massinburg each chipped in 17 points as the senior-laden Bulls (27-3 overall, 15-2 MAC) won the conference title for the second straight year and tied the school record for wins set last year when the team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Bobcats (13-16, 5-12) got 20 points from Doug Taylor and Teyvion Kirk added 17.

 

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