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Penn State Picks Up First Big Ten Win In 86-77 Defeat Of Minnesota

On January 11, 1996, Penn State played its inaugural home basketball game in the Bryce Jordan Center against Minnesota, christening the new facility with a 76-71 victory. In the arena’s 20th season of operation, the Nittany Lions and Golden Gophers squared off with both teams in search of its first conference victory of the young season. Isn’t it fitting that the Nittany Lions came out on top, just as they did 20 years ago. Payton Banks’ impressive 24 point outburst helped the Lions edge Minnesota 86-77, and gave the team a much-needed Big Ten victory in the process.

How It Happened

The two teams fired right out of the gate, trading blows down low as they exchanged buckets. Three point shooting was the early theme, and the Golden Gophers brought it from beyond the arc, but luckily the Nittany Lions were able to keep up thanks to its impressive stable of sharpshooters. Nobody was more impressive than Payton Banks, who led the way with 13 first half points. He found his stroke early on, helping the Lions remain in stride with the stingy Golden Gophers.

Penn State was aggressive all night on the glass, including standout freshman Josh Reaves. He muscled his way beneath the basket, swooping over two defenders to grab a key offensive board early on in the first half. Unfortunately, his shot never fell through, and Minnesota maintained a 16-12 lead. Not long after, Banks exploded underneath the hoop for a spinning layup to keep the Lions within one possession, and a momentous three pointer got the Lions to within a single basket with under two minutes left in the half. Despite the commendable effort, Penn State headed into the locker room trailing 36-32.

Shooting intensified in the second half, with both sides continuing to test one another. Minnesota’s three point clip reached 9-14, helping the Golden Gophers jump out to a 49-41 lead. But the Lions would not falter, and stormed back thanks to the fiery play of Reaves. The star freshman was sent to the charity stripe with a chance to even up the score on the heels of an aggressive steal and near-finish in transition. He missed both attempts, but a lane violation sent him right back to the line. This time, his shot held true, and two teams were tied 56-56. After allowing Minnesota to capitalize on a few good chances, Payton Banks helped lead an 11-0 run to reclaim the lead — this time for good.

As the clock ran out, it was Penn State that held the upper hand as Garner milked the clock in the game’s waning seconds. Penn State improves to 10-6, while Minnesota nicely falls to 6-9 on the season.

Player Of The Game

Who else than surging sharpshooter Payton Banks, whose 24 point performance helped spark an offensive onslaught in the second half, allowing Penn State to comfortably glide past Minnesota en route to its remarkable nine point victory. He shot 2-4 from beyond the arc, 6-7 from the free throw line, and chipped in two assists and five rebounds.

What’s Next?

Tom Izzo and No. 5 Michigan State pay a visit to the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday, Jan. 10 at noon.

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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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