January 26, 2016

An ankle injury could momentarily interrupt Caleb Swanigan's progression at Purdue.

The visiting No. 21 Boilermakers hope to have their talented freshman available when they try to hand Minnesota a 10th consecutive defeat Wednesday night.

Swanigan averages a team-leading 8.9 rebounds and is tied for third with 10.1 points while starting every game for Purdue (17-4, 5-3 Big Ten). He tweaked his ankle in Sunday's 83-71 loss at then-No. 9 Iowa, but played 25 minutes.

Perhaps hindered by the injury, Swanigan managed five points after averaging 11.8 in the previous four.

Coach Matt Painter said Swanigan was "OK" immediately following the game but that might have changed after he missed practice Monday. Though Swanigan is shooting 43.5 percent and still learning to be a consistent offensive post presence, his seven double-doubles are a freshman school record.

"He's getting some real good opportunities to score the ball," Painter said. "We've just got to stay positive with him."

Painter does expect fellow starting forward Vince Edwards to play despite briefly leaving Sunday following a collision with the Hawkeyes' Adam Woodbury. The sophomore scored a season-high 19 for the second time this month and has averaged 15.5 points and 53.3 percent shooting in the last four.

Purdue, however, will be without key reserve guard Kendall Stephens (7.2 ppg) for a second straight game due to the death of a close friend.

The Boilermakers shot 42.2 percent and allowed Iowa to make half of their 54 attempts as they fell to 2-2 on the road in the league. They also committed 17 turnovers that turned into 24 points for the Hawkeyes.

Purdue hasn't dropped two straight this season, but it would appear to have a good opportunity to prevent that from happening Wednesday even if Swanigan can't go. The Boilermakers lost in their last two visits to Williams Arena, but neither of those Minnesota squads struggled as severely as this one.

The Golden Gophers (6-14, 0-8) haven't lost 10 in a row since a school-record 16-game slide concluded the 1986-87 season. They last dropped their first nine conference contests in 2003-04.

''It's tough," said coach Richard Pitino, whose team has lost five straight and seven of nine at home. "You're working hard. You're playing hard. You want to win. And you're just not finding a way to do it.

"In order to win, I've said it before, we've got to pitch a perfect game."

Minnesota has shot 40.6 percent and reached 70 points twice during the skid, but has been more competitive in losing the last three by a combined 17. It appeared the slide would end Saturday, but Illinois went on a 16-0 run that began near the end of regulation to hand the Gophers a 76-71 home defeat.

"We just have to stick with it," said senior forward Joey King, one of three upperclassmen on the Gophers' active roster. "That's the most important thing, just not losing our confidence. We have to come out at the beginning of every game knowing that we have a chance to win."

Sophomore Nate Mason (13.3 ppg) has 44 points and 12 assists in two games while King (12.8 ppg) scored 38 in the last two at home.

Minnesota has lost five in a row against ranked opponents.

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