With another batch of snow and ice outside West Lafayette's Mackey Arena, the host Purdue Boilermakers came home from a testy road trip to shake off the cold against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Purdue came into the game on a 4-game losing streak, but still stalking the Big Ten leaders. Eight teams are within one-and-a-half games of top conference contenders Michigan (8-1 BT), Michigan State (8-1 BT) and Iowa (6-3 BT).
The Boilers slipped behind 7 early, but closed the gap to pull ahead by one at the break, 29-28. The first half showcased Purdue's Sterling Carter with all 10 of his game points, and 2-4 from behind the arc. Both teams were hot from the floor, shooting for over 50%.
Despite the hot hands of Boilermakers AJ Hammons and Kendall Stephens, a cold front of woeful team free throws kept the Gophers within reach. Finishing just 9-23, Purdue could not pull away. Minnesota tied the game in regulation on a jumper by Austin Hollins at the buzzer.
It took three overtimes to decide this one, the first ever 3-OT game for men's basketball at Mackey Arena. Minnesota worked it inside with center Maurice Walker and their slashing guard, DeAndre Mathieu. Purdue answered with their own inside-out duo of guard Ronnie Johnson and big man, AJ Hammons.
Hammons had another strong performance with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Errick Peck added another 11 boards off the bench, as the Boilermakers' 23 offensive rebounds led to 23 second-chance points. These extra opportunities chewed up the clock and put up enough points to seal the win.
When asked about the importance of this win, and getting back on track, Carter stated, "It was very important for us to get this win... we, as a team, decided that we were just going to take it one game at a time."
Up next: Purdue (14-9, 4-6 BT) travels to Ohio State (18-5, 5-5 BT), on February 8th. Minnesota (15-8, 4-6 BT) is back home against IU (14-8, 4-5 BT) that same day.