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Penn State Outlasts Minnesota, Picks Up Second Straight B1G Win

Despite an ice cold first half from D.J. Newbill, Penn State was able to hold on down the stretch against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, 63-58, picking up back-to-back conference wins after dropping six straight.

Newbill picked up the slack towards the end, scoring 10 points in the game’s final seven minutes to lead the team with 12, but it was the rest of the team that really stepped it up. Overall, this was a game that Penn State absolutely needed to win, and with the help of the team’s supporting cast, Pat Chambers was able to rally the troops and secure an extremely important conference win.

How It Happened 

This one started out sloppy, with both teams missing jumpers early on. Penn State managed to keep the game within one after some big second chance points, made possible thanks to Geno Thorpe’s rebounding in the paint. Bench play could not be stressed enough throughout this one, as the team’s supporting members were forced to step up with Newbill slipping into a first half funk.

The two teams battled to an 18-18 tie with under 10 minutes to play in the first, but the stalemate was broken after a Jordan Dickerson slam, coupled with two free throws from Geno Thorpe to spark an offensive run for the Nittany Lions. Coach Chambers raved about his bench players — particularly his young guys — after the game, and for good reason. Payton Banks caught fire toward the end of the first half, draining two big threes to extend Penn State’s lead to eight. A layup from Jack followed by another bomb from Banks brought Penn State to a 33-20 halftime advantage, sparking some energy into the building as the Lions headed to the locker room.

Penn State had one its best defensive performances of the season, notching a total of nine blocks — including four from Donovon Jack. Minnesota trailed by double digits for the first few minutes of the second half until a pair of turnovers allowed Minnesota to slowly creep back in, cutting Penn State’s lead to four. The Golden Gophers tied it up after an Elliot Eliason layup, and the game was back and forth from that point on.

Andre Hollins nailed a deep three to give Minnesota a 46-45 lead, but the Nittany Lions responded with a slew of points from a scorching hot Newbill, who emerged from his slump late in the second half. Newbill converted a slam off a steal by Dickerson, followed by a pair of free throws and a huge layup that gave Penn State the lead, 53-46.

The Golden Gophers’ final chance came at the one-minute mark after Newbill coughed it up on the inbounds pass, leading to an easy layup for DeAndre Mathieu to cut Penn State’s lead to two. The Lions held strong, however, going 3-for-6 from the free throw line over the game’s final 41 seconds to take a 63-58 lead. Jordan Dickerson sealed the deal at the end, flying in out of nowhere to swat away Joey King’s late heave from beyond the arc in Hakim Warrick fashion, propelling Penn State to its second straight Big Ten victory.

Player Of The Game 

For their collective performance, this honor goes to Penn State’s supporting cast of Geno Thorpe, Devin Foster, Payton Banks, Shep Garner, Donovon Jack, and Jordan Dickerson. D.J. Newbill may have finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and three steals — a fine stat line by any standard — but he was nearly invisible until the seven-minute mark. Penn State’s supporting cast really stepped up, and helped will the Lions to victory down the stretch. Thorpe and Banks finished with nine points while Foster chipped in eight. All told, every Penn State player that saw minutes on Wednesday night added to the scoring column. Keep in mind that Penn State was down two key contributors –Brandon Taylor and John Johnson — and this performance seems even more impressive.

Tweet Of The Game

You just have to love Geno Thorpe and his #attitude.

Video of the Game

Early in the second half, Geno Thorpe finished a fast break with a beautiful alley-oop to Ross Travis, igniting the BJC crowd and giving Penn State a commanding 12-point lead.

Game Notes 

  • With the victory, Penn State improves to 14-7 on the season and 2-6 in the Big Ten. Minnesota falls to 13-9 on the year and 2-7 in the Big Ten.
  • All nine Nittany Lions to play in the game scored at least three points.
  • Penn State held the advantage on the glass, outrebounding the Gophers 36-28. The Lions are 11-1 when outrebounding their opponent this season.
  • Led by Geno Thorpe and D.J. Newbill’s three steals apiece, Penn State finished with a season-high 10 steals for the first time since grabbing 11 in the win at Indiana on Feb. 12, 2014.
  • Four players produced or tied career highs in points: Banks (9), Foster (8), Dickerson (6) and Moore (4) (h/t @GoPSUAlissaC)

What’s Next?

Next up, Pat Chambers and the Nittany Lions will take a trip to Champaign, Illinois to battle the Fighting Illini on Jan. 31 at 1 p.m.

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About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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