WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana (Ticker) -- Purdue received some clutch points from an unexpected source.
Known for his rugged defense in the post, Brett Buscher scored two baskets and a pair of free throws during a critical stretch of the second half to lead the 23rd-ranked Boilermakers to a 72-65 victory over Minnesota in a Big Ten Conference game.
After losing its conference opener at Iowa, Purdue (13-4, 3-1 Big Ten) has reeled off consecutive wins over Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
David Teague and Kenneth Lowe combined for 30 points in the first half when Purdue shot 63 percent from the field and built a 43-28 lead.
But Minnesota (8-8, 0-4) opened the second half with a 13-3 run and pulled within 46-41 on a basket by freshman Kris Humphries.
Purdue opened the lead back to 58-47 on a 3-pointer by Brandon McKnight with 11:37 left, but the Golden Gophers scored the next 11 points. After a pair of 3-pointers by North Carolina transfer Adam Boone, Maurice Hargrow hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 58-58 with 6:19 left.
Buscher, who was averaging 6.8 points per game, converted a pair of free throws with 5:56 remaining to give Purdue the lead for good. The 6-8 senior then hit a one-handed jump hook from the right baseline 36 seconds later. After Stan Gaines converted a layup for Minnesota, Buscher took a pass from Lowe and scored inside with 4:43 left.
Matt Kiefer's two free throws increased the lead to 66-60 with 2:07 remaining.
Purdue converted 6-of-8 free throws in the final 58 seconds, including two apiece by Lowe and Teague, to seal the win.
Buscher's assignment for the night was to guard the 6-8 Humphries, Minnesota's leading scorer at 22.5 points per game. Midway through the first half, Humphries was elbowed in the left eye by Buscher and played the rest of the game with the eye nearly swollen shut.
The injury certainly affected Humphries' shooting. He led the Gophers with 19 points and 14 rebounds, but was just 5-of-15 from the floor.