WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Gene Keady's farewell lap around
Mackey Arena was missing one thing Saturday -- a victory
Vincent Grier and Aaron Robinson ruined the party, rallying
Minnesota from a 15-point second-half deficit past Purdue 59-57 on
a day in which Boilermaker fans said goodbye after Keady's 25
seasons as coach.
Boilermakers officials gave Keady several gifts in a lengthy
postgame ceremony before the coach addressed the sellout crowd.
After the ceremony, Keady walked around the arena with his wife,
Pat, waving to the fans before walking through the tunnel for the
last time at Purdue.
"We couldn't pull it off today, but we're not finished," Keady
told the crowd. "We're going to go to Illinois and try to upset
Bruce (Weber), and then we're going to go to Wisconsin and skin the
Badgers. And then we're going to go to Chicago and win that thing
and go dancing."
It was typical Keady -- refusing to give up, never giving in.
His players tried to emulate those characteristics on the court,
but it wasn't enough Saturday.
Purdue led 31-18 at halftime and extended the margin to 40-25
with 14:44 to play. But the Golden Gophers (19-9, 9-6 Big Ten)
fought back against a undermanned Purdue squad that lost the Big
Ten's top scorer, Carl Landry, early in the first half with a right
knee injury. An injury update was not expected until Sunday.
Grier scored 12 of his 15 points in the final 20 minutes, while
Robinson added 14 points and had four 3-pointers. Purdue still had
a chance to force overtime on Brandon McKnight's 12-footer at the
buzzer, but the ball bounced off the back of the rim.
Minnesota won in West Lafayette for only the third time since
"I hate to see him go out with a loss, but that's the way the
ball bounces," Robinson said. "I don't want to lose. He doesn't
want to lose. Somebody's got to lose."
For Keady, it was another agonizing day in the most frustrating
season of his coaching career. Following the game, school officials
and boosters gave him gifts -- a golf trip to Scotland, framed
programs from his first and last game at Purdue, a No. 25 jersey
and the distinction of having a golf tournament in Las Vegas named
Throughout the game, Keady was himself.
He stood on the sidelines, sometimes barking at players,
sometimes punching at air, pleading for fouls, sometimes even
Nothing helped. Purdue (7-18, 3-11) lost its third straight.
"I had a feeling today, to just attack, just go hard,"
McKnight said after scoring 18 points. "You could tell by how we
played defense in the first half, we hadn't played defense like
that all year. We were everywhere."
In the first half, Purdue's passion was reminiscent of Keady's
glory days in the mid-1990s, and the crowd reacted the same way.
Fans held signs that read "Thanks Coach" and "Thanks for the
memories" and the noise reached a decibel level that rekindled
memories of Purdue's run to three straight Big Ten titles. When the
Boilermakers started to sputter, the student section pieced
together a portrait of Keady.
Like most everything else done in Keady's honor, it drew a
The crowd seemed to rattle the Gophers early. Minnesota
committed 11 turnovers and shot 30.4 percent in the first half as
Purdue took control with 6-0 and 10-0 runs.
By the second half, Minnesota settled down.
"It was a great emotional game," Grier said. "They played a
little harder than us in the beginning and all we had to do was
Grier steadied his teammates with an array of drives and
off-balance shots, opening up the outside for Robinson.
Minnesota's rally started with Grier's 12-foot jumper, and when
Robinson hit a 3-pointer with 9:52 to go, the Gophers were within
Grier took care of the rest. He tied the score at 48 on another
12-footer with 7:04 left and gave Minnesota a 50-48 lead when he
retrieved an errant Purdue pass and went in for a dunk.
"A couple shots started going in. We all hit some big ones down
the stretch," Grier said. "That's what opened the game up for
The Boilermakers regained the lead twice more -- on Chris
Hartley's late 3-pointer and when McKnight connected on 1 of 2 free
throws for a 56-55 lead with 1:41 left.
But Dan Coleman answered with a 3-pointer to make it 58-56.
Purdue got one more chance to give Keady his biggest gift, after
J'son Stamper missed both free throws with 5.9 seconds left. But
McKnight's shot bounced away.
"I felt it was money," McKnight said. "I was just so
Keady finished his career at Purdue with a record of 282-72,
including 20-4 against the Gophers.
To Keady, though, it was an emotional finish to a career that
included six Big Ten titles and seven conference coach of the year
"I just don't have a good attitude when I lose," he said.
"It's just one of those things, it's unfortunate we couldn't win
this game so you could feel better. But, hey, life isn't about you
feeling good, it's about what happens and what happens was we got