INDIANAPOLIS -- Here's all you need to know about the first half of today's second semifinal.
Purdue center JaJuan Johnson had a nifty hook shoot fall through the net just before the buzzer. It gave his team double digits in points for the half. Just brutal basketball by Purdue, and great defense by Minnesota.
Man, I wouldn't mind being in Purdue's locker room right now.
A few thoughts:
Barring a huge collapse, Minnesota will notch another win against a top 25 RPI opponent, although Purdue hardly looks like one today. Wins here against Michigan State and Purdue should be enough to push the surging Gophers into the NCAA tournament field. Athletic director Joel Maturi told me before Friday's game that Minnesota would get in if it reaches the final. Minnesota finally seems to have figured things out on defense, and the Gophers are suffocating Purdue with their length.
Purdue did a nice job winning three straight games without star guard Robbie Hummel, but if today's first half is any indication, the Boilers won't be around very long in March. They simply don't have enough firepower against teams with both size and length like Minnesota. Settling for outside shots, Purdue shot a pathetic 5-for-27 from the field (18.5 percent), and that was with a mini hot streak at the end of the half. Only three Boilers have scored, and star guard E'Twaun Moore is 1-for-12 from the floor.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is getting contributions from throughout its roster. Center Colton Iverson continues to have a terrific tournament, and Ralph Sampson III bounced back from a poor performance Friday with six points and four rebounds in the first half. The Gophers shot a blistering 61.5 percent in the half, and they're killing Purdue inside with a 21-8 edge on the boards.