Penn State Played Minnesota and Did Not Win
After pulling off an improbable upset, a team will usually react one of two ways in their next contest. They will either build off the momentum of the previous game with a similar effort, or they’ll stink up the place.
For Penn State, this one stunk.
Just three days after shocking the college basketball world by knocking off No. 4 Michigan at home, the Nittany Lions (9-19, 1-15 Big Ten) were demolished on the road by Minnesota, 73-44.
The Golden Gophers (20-9, 8-8 Big Ten) were coming off an improbable upset of their own, as they knocked off top-ranked Indiana at home on Tuesday. It was Senior Day in Minneapolis and a packed house at Williams Arena was there in full force to make sure there was no letdown from the Gophers.
The Gophers’ class of four seniors led the way for Minnesota from the start. Julian Welch got the Gophers out to a hot start by scoring five points on the team’s first two possessions. Sixth year player Trevor Mbakwe (who is at least 39 years old at this point), Andre Ingram and Rodney Williams Jr. all got on the board early, helping Minnesota get out to a 16-0 start.
It took 11:18 of game action before the Nittany Lions even put points on the scoreboard when D.J. Newbill cooled the scoring drought by knocking down a jumper. Penn State seemed to pick up a bit of momentum, narrowing the lead to 21-8 as they looked to close the deficit going into half-time, but the Gophers promptly responded and ended the half with a 13-4 run which was capped off by a monstrous alley-oop slam from Williams.
The second half brought more of the same — a balanced scoring attack from Minnesota and more scoring struggles from Penn State. Mbakwe and junior Austin Hollins got Minnesota going early and Joe Coleman scored all 12 of his points consecutively later in the half to continue the beatdown and eliminate any chance of a Nittany Lion comeback.
For the game, Mbakwe led the way with 13 points and 13 rebounds (six offensive). Coleman and Hollins added 12 and 11, respectively. Seniors Welch and Williams scored 10 points each. The Gophers shot 50 percent from the field and out-rebounded Penn State 46-30.
Fatigue was evident for Penn State as they shot just 27.1 percent from the field. D.J. Newbill led all scorers with 15 points on 2-0f-16 from the field and 10-of-14 from the line. Jermaine Marshall added 10 in just 26 minutes of action after picking up two early fouls in the first half. Ross Travis, playing in front of friends and family from nearby Chasaka, Minn., scored eight points on 3-of-11 shooting.
Penn State will look to rebound on the road Thursday against an injury-plagued Northwestern team who has lost six straight games.