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No. 22 Penn State Hoops Takes Down Minnesota 83-77 In Front Of A Sold Out BJC

Penn State men’s basketball (18-5, 8-4 Big Ten) had its revenge on Minnesota (12-11, 6-7 Big Ten) Saturday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.

After a 75-69 loss in Minneapolis in January gave Penn State a three-game losing streak, Lamar Stevens successfully out-dueled Daniel Oturu in front of a sold out White Out crowd. The Nittany Lions are now on a six-game win streak thanks to the victory.

How It Happened

John Harrar set the tempo early, with excellent post defense stopping Minnesota’s first possession and strong moves inside to open up the scoring. The sellout crowd was loud early on, booing any Golden Gopher who dared touch the ball. The King of Delco would get himself another bucket before Mike Watkins was subbed in, who promptly took over in the post beast department.

Despite the quick start by the Nittany Lions, Minnesota caught up quickly. Led by Danial Oturu, the Golden Gophers made it a 11-10 Penn State led as the momentum seemed to dry up. But back to back threes from Lamar Stevens and Myles Dread earned Penn State some breathing room back.

Penn State would keep trying to push that lead, building it up to an eight point one with 7:46 left in the half. A three from Jamari Wheeler and a sweet dish from Stevens to Watkins helped create some much needed separation. Forcing a 24-second violation got the BJC rocking once again, followed by a swish from midrange from Stevens to make it a double-digit lead for the first time all game.

After yet another attempted run by the Gophers, Penn State made its dominance known. A 14-point lead was built up before the end of the half as Wheeler and Harrar both helped force a steal, picking the pockets of Tre’ Williams on the ground before Izaiah Brockington finished the ensuing fast break with a thunderous slam. With the BJC rocking once again, Penn State took a 36-22 lead into halftime.

Both squads got to scoring early, with two Minnesota treys locking the Gophers right in from the start. But more standout scoring from Stevens, already up to 21 with just 16:53 left in the game, made sure that Minnesota was kept at bay.

Penn State would continue to flirt with a 20-point lead, with continued offensive production and rock solid defense starting to really bury the Gophers. Harrar and Lundy stayed active on both ends of the court, with the former being a terror inside and leading the team with two steals and the later attacking the rim with gusto and crashing the boards with the best of them.

Minnesota would stage another comeback, and this one made things nearly too close for comfort. Marcus Carr had 18 of his 20 points in the second half, leading a 14-4 run that made it a 60-52 Penn State lead with 9:51 left in the game. The Golden Gophers were amped to get back into the game, throwing a full-court press at the Nittany Lions and nearly forcing a 24-second call. With just a couple second left, Stevens nailed a crucial three pointer that put his team back up by 11.

Brockington passed the 10-point mark with another strong take to the hoop as Penn State desperately tried to keep Minnesota at bay. The Gophers made it a three point game after a triple from deep by Gabe Klascheur. Stevens would try and stop the bleeding with a three point play and phenomenal team defense stopped a response from Minnesota. With just 3:13 left in the game, clutch play helped hand Penn State wrestle back a 77-68 lead.

While the Nittany Lions stayed in control, the Gophers remained a pest. Up 81-72 with 1:03 left, Stevens would go 1-2 at the line before a Gopher three made it a six point game with 46 seconds left. Some more back and forth chaos ensued before Penn State’s 83-77 victory could be made official.

Takeaways

  • Putting on superstar performances day in and day out isn’t anything new for Lamar Stevens, but the senior couldn’t be stopped against Minnesota. Scoring a career-high 33 with seven rebounds and a block seems everyday now for No. 11. Expect to hear his name called at some point late June when the NBA draft rolls around.
  • With Myreon Jones ruled out before tipoff, Penn State had a second-leading scorer sized hole in their lineup. But while Stevens’ career day helped, everyone else pitched in too. Seth Lundy and Myles Dread both had eight points and Izaiah Brockington was the only other player besides Stevens in double digits with 10.
  • Josh Reaves has officially been succeeded in Happy Valley as Penn State’s defensive pest-in-chief. Jamari Wheeler is a nightmare for opposing defenses with his hands on nearly every loose ball and the perimeter on constant lockdown.

What’s Next

Penn State will go on the road yet again, this time to Purdue to take on the Boilermakers in West Lafayette. The game will be on Tuesday, February 11 at 6:30 p.m and you can catch all the action on BTN.

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About the Author

Matt Paolizzi

Matt is a junior majoring in Secondary Education and minoring in Philosophy. He's a Philly sports fan, which causes him existential dread on the daily coupled with a deep distaste for the current state of Star Wars. Send him death threats at [email protected] and follow @m_paolizzi on Twitter for a near constant supply of second-hand embarrassment.

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