Moore's second-half surge sends Purdue to winFeb 28, 2008 - 6:29 AM WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana (Ticker) -- Purdue has not won a Big Ten title since 1995-96. However, fate may be smiling on it this season.
Freshman E'Twaun Moore scored 22 points to lead the 19th-ranked Boilermakers to a 65-53 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday in Big Ten Conference action.
The victory moved Purdue (22-6, 13-2 Big Ten) into a first-place tie with idle Indiana (13-2) and Wisconsin (13-2). The Badgers host fourth-place Michigan State (10-4) on Thursday while the Hoosiers also face the Spartans in their next game in East Lansing, Michigan, on Sunday.
Of the Boilermakers' four remaining games, only one - at Ohio State on March 4 - is against a team with a winning record in conference play.
"Obviously, you want to go out and take care of your business but you want help," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Wisconsin and Indiana were probably rooting for Minnesota tonight.
"All three teams - four teams with Michigan State mathematically right there - all want some help but if you look past your next opponent, that's when you're going to get beat. We're worried about Northwestern, that's the only way to approach it, if you get some help, that's a bonus."
After Minnesota (17-10, 7-8) drew even for the first time at 26-26 with five seconds left in the first half, Keaton Grant answered with a long 3-pointer as time expired, giving Purdue a 29-26 halftime lead.
The shot seemed to have a carryover effect on the Golden Gophers, who missed their first four shots coming out of the break.
"That was a big play," Purdue freshman forward Robbie Hummel said. "That was a big momentum swing. When that happens, that just kills you if you are on defense. They had the momentum, and then Keaton hit that shot, and that just turned things around."
Spencer Tollackson hit a jumper at 14:52 left to end the dry spell, but Minnesota could only manage just one more point until Lawrence McKenzie drained a 3-pointer with 11:06 remaining to end a half-opening 13-3 run for Purdue that gave it a 42-32 lead.
Moore led the charge with seven points during the burst and continued his torrid scoring pace after McKenzie's shot, scoring seven of his team's next nine points to extend the advantage to 51-35 with 7:41 left in the contest.
"E'Twaun Moore is a pretty talented player," Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. "He is athletic, quick, smart and knows how to get open. He's a great shooter and all-around player. He had a great night."
The Gophers could get no closer than 11 points the rest of the way, thanks in large part to Moore, who finished with 17 in the second half.
"There was that one stretch where we didn't make shots but I thought coming out of halftime, we were ready to go at the start of the second half," Painter said. "I thought our guys responded well to having eight days off and showed it."
Hummel had 12 points and eight rebounds and Grant scored 11 for the Boilermakers, who overcame a 38-26 deficit on the boards.
McKenzie scored 13 points and Dan Coleman added 10 and 13 rebounds for Minnesota, which lost for the first time in three contests.
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