In order to beat a Purdue team that shared the regular season B1G title with Michigan State, Minnesota needed one of its better performances of the season. The Gophers got exactly that on Friday night.
Well, at least if you ask head coach Richard Pitino.
Minnesota’s star players Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey combined for 48 points and Daniel Oturu had a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a 75-73 win over the Boilermakers in the quarterfinal round. Pitino puts Friday’s performance right up there with the best of this season.
“May have been our best game we’ve played all year,” Pitino said following the win. “the physicality of that game, to be able to get stops when we needed it [was impressive].”
The Gophers also needed Coffey to go all 40 minutes and Murphy also played 38. Over the last two nights, the starters have been on the floor for a ton of minutes, but it’s resulted in two big wins.
After talking with the media, Pitino also fired off a tweet about the win.
“Great toughness from our guys tonight!” Pitino wrote. “Love their quiet confidence. Another terrific opportunity tomorrow. Go Gophers!!”
Great toughness from our guys tonight! Love their quiet confidence. Another terrific opportunity tomorrow. Go Gophers!!!#SkiUMah
— Richard Pitino (@CoachPitinoMN) March 16, 2019
Minnesota’s win should put it comfortably in the NCAA Tournament field come Selection Sunday. The Gophers were expected to be one of the last teams in the 68-team bracket entering the B1G Tournament, and wins over Penn State and Purdue only helps their cause.
Now, the Gophers await the winner of the Iowa-Michigan game. One more win and Minnesota will play for a B1G Tournament title on Sunday.