Minnesota Vs. Penn State: Nittany Lions Hold On Late For 66-63 Victory

The Nittany Lions take on the Golden Gophers.

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9 Total Updates since February 17, 2011
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Minnesota Vs. Penn State: Lions Pull Out Critical Win

Last season, it seemed like Penn State couldn't buy a late win. The Nittany Lions fell by five points or less nine times, and perhaps no defeat epitomized the agony of those near misses more than their 66-64 loss at home to Minnesota on a buzzer-beater by Lawrence Westbrook on Feb. 6.

That heartbreak begot Penn State's "one more" motto this past offseason, as the Lions made it their goal to come up with clutch plays to win those tight games late in 2010-2011, and Thursday night, against the same Golden Gophers who tortured them last season, Penn State got it done late.

Talor Battle's three pointer with 1:12 remaining put Penn State ahead for good Thursday night in its 66-63 victory against Minnesota at the Bryce Jordan Center, giving the Lions their second-best win, RPI-wise, of the season and a crucial victory for their NCAA Tournament resume.

After narrowly escaping with a first half lead thanks to foul trouble by Andrew Jones and Jeff Brooks early in the frame, Penn State came out strong in the second half, building a 10 point lead midway through the period. The Lions watched that lead dwindle, however, and with under two minutes to play, the Gophers held a three-point lead.

A tip in from Andrew Jones, however, as well as Battle's three put Penn State ahead, giving it a lead it would not relinquish.

David Jackson, who finished the evening with 13 points, five rebounds and an assist, was pleased to get the late win.

"This was another close game and it came down to the wire," Jackson said. "We're starting to win these games unlike last year when we lost a lot of the close games, and we're really learning how to play late in games whether we're down or whether we have a lead and it's close. I think that's pretty positive."

Battle's late triple was a microcosm of his night. The senior guard was 7-14 from beyond the arc on the evening.

He also scored a game high 28 points, grabbed to rebounds and notched an assist in, but the three ball was the key for both Battle and Penn State as a whole, as it took 31 deep ones against the Gophers, hitting 12 for 38,7%.

The senior said after the game that the game plan wasn't to take so many deep shots, but that the Lions didn't have a whole lot of choices.

"They were in a zone, so there wasn't too much you could do," Battle said. "They're so big that it was hard to score in the paint."

It was also hard for Penn State to do really anything down low. The Gophers dominated Penn State on the boards, winning the rebound margin 34-22 overall and 9-7 on the offensive glass.

Trevor Mbakwe finished with a double-double, 16 points and 10 rebounds, with 10 of those boards coming in the first half. Colton Iverson grabbed nine rebounds of his own to help Minnesota to it's big margin.

Penn State coach Ed DeChellis blamed the absence of Jeff Brooks and Andrew Jones in the first half due to foul trouble for some of the reobunding woes.

"The first half, we didn't have those two guys," DeChellis said. "I thought if we could just hang in there we'd be OK, rebounding wise. When you take Jeff's eight and Drew's size away...it's hard."

The Lions will now head to Wisconsin on Sunday with a matchup against the No. 11 Badgers at the Kohl Center. Penn State won the last meeting of the two squads 56-52 in Happy Valley, but Wisconsin got the better of Penn State in Madison last season, winning 79-71 in overtime.

DeChellis believes his team will be ready to go.

"We were reeling a week ago and we got [Northwestern] and we needed this one and got this one, so the kids are feeling pretty good," DeChellis said. "We'll go in there on Sunday and it'll be a great atmosphere up there."

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Minnesota Vs. Penn State Second Half Updates: Lions Pull Out Late Win

Talor Battle answers Minnesota's run with a triple out of the timeout, but the Golden Gophers can one on the other end to pull back to within two.

Andrew Jones returns with 6:16 to play. Let's see how long he lasts.

Speaking of fouls, Jeff Brooks has stayed out of dodge. Let's see if he's more aggressive on defense here.

Minnesota ties the game with just under five minutes to play in the game.

David Jackson gets a basket and-one. Penn State has gotten a bucket when it's needed one every time in this half. Now they have to get some stops.

Right on cue, Jeff Brooks picks up his third foul. Minnesota gets a basket and-one on the ensuing possession. Looked like a charge, though.

Penn State is in the bonus the rest of the way.

Tim Frazier just picked up his fourth foul.

Minnesota takes the lead with under four to go on a Colton Iverson layup. Totally exploited Penn State down low there.

Tim Frazier gets the lead back with a jumper.

Trevor Mbakwe gets the lead back for Minnesota with a layup, Penn State calls timeout with 3:07.

Talor Battle drills a three to give Penn State back the lead. The building is electric as Tubby Smith call timeout with 51 second remaining and Penn State up two.

Minnesota is called for an offensive foul on the ensuing possession. Penn State has the ball, up two, with 37.8 remaining after the two teams come back from the final media timeout.

Talor Battle hits a free throw after getting fouled with 17.3 left, Andrew Jones is called for a lane infraction, erasing a shot for a second free throw. Penn State gets the stop, though, as Minnesota turns it over on the ensuing offensive possession. Cammeron Woodyard hits a pair of free throws to put Penn State up five.

Blake Hoffarber hits a triple, pulling Minnesota back to within two with 5.9 seconds to play.

Talor Battle hits 1-2 free throws. Minnesota will have the ball down three, looking to tie with still that 5.9 to play.

Blake Hoffarber misses a three at the buzzer and Penn State holds on, 66-63. Huge win for the Nittany Lions. I'm heading to the press room. We'll have more on the game later tonight here at SB Nation Pittsburgh.

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Minnesota Vs. Penn State Second Half Updates: Lions Remain In Tight Game

Talor Battle already has 20 points and Penn State has needed every one of them. He appears to be the only Penn State player with any offensive flow right now. David Jackson and Jeff Brooks need to start hitting a few jumpers to get into the game here. Then, the Nittany Lions are going to be tough for the Golden Gophers to contain.

Andrew Jones picks up his fourth foul away from the ball. Not a smart decision at all by the senior.

Phenomenal play by David Jackson throwing the ball off a Minnesota player to help Penn State retain possession. After Jeff Brooks gets a bucket on the ensuing offensive play, he takes a charge from Ralph Sampson III, too. Gritty play from the senior, even with his shot not quite on.

Check that. Jackson hits a three. He's taking over.

Sampson III gets run from the game, picking up his fourth foul, again on offense. Minnesota is going to miss him until the final couple minutes.

Minnesota goes on a quick 8-0 run to cut the Penn State lead down to 47-45. That's the score with 7:34 remaining here in the second half.

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Minnesota Vs. Penn State Second Half Updates: Lions Boost Lead

Jeff Brooks and Andrew Jones are back for Penn State to open the half. In fact, so is the entire starting five, including Talor Battle, Tim Frazier and David Jackson.

Tim Frazier hits his second triple of the night with the shot clock about to expire to get Penn State on the board in the second half.

Penn State looks much more fluid offensively to open the half, as you'd expect with two starters back on the floor.

Jeff Brooks just went down hard going for a rebound. No foul called.

Crowd loudly applauds Penn State's efforts on the offensive glass this trip, grabbing two offensive rebounds.

Andrew Jones called for his third foul at 16:37 to play.

The Nittany Lions have played some good defense to open the half, but it hasn't resulted in much of a cushion.

Both Brooks and Jackson appear to be having a tough time finding their range tonight. They're two of Penn State's more reliable 3-point shooters but they're just not getting it done so far.

The building explodes as Talor Battle drills a triple, then follows it up with a breakaway layup and-one. With 13:10 to play in the game, Penn State leads 41-35.

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Minnesota Vs. Penn State First Half Updates: Lions Take Lead Into Halftime

Former walk-on Steve Kirkpatrick checks into the game for Penn State. No offense to Steve-o, but when he checks into an important game this early, it's never good news.

Talor Battle already has 14 points. He's really the only one making things happen for Penn State offensively right now, but man, is he making them happen big time. Could be on his way to a career night.

Steve Kirkpatrick gets on the board with a layup and drops a dime. Wow.

As hot as Battle has been, Blake Hoffarber has been right there with him for Minnesota. He already has three triples.

David Jackson hits a triple to give Penn State the lead back.

Stunningly, Penn State takes a 29-28 lead into the half without either Jeff Brooks or Andrew Jones for much of the first stanza.

Here is your halftime stat pack.

Battle continues to lead Penn State in scoring with 14 points. David Jackson has four rebounds to lead the Lions. No other Penn State player has more than one.

Trevor Mbakwe leads Minnesota in points and rebounds with 10 each. Those 10 boards are one less than Penn State has as a team. The Golden Gophers lead rebounding overall 22-11 and 7-1 on the offensive boards. They also outshot the Lions 41.7%-39.3%.

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Minnesota Vs. Penn State First Half Updates: Nittany Lions In Early Foul Trouble

Rebound spread is 11-3 in favor of Minnesota as I write this. Penn State can't maintain that and expect to win.

Jeff Brooks is called for his second foul of the game. Uh-oh...

Penn State goes three guards without Brooks as Cammeon Woodyard checks in. Penn State will certainly miss Brooks' penetration and jumper, but Woodyard can hold his own on the inside.

Billy Oliver picks up his second foul and Minnesota is already in the bonus with 8:55 to play. If you're keeping score, that's already three Penn State forwards in foul trouble.

Penn State's five on the floor now: David Jackson, Talor Battle, Jermaine Marshall, Billy Oliver and Cammeron Woodyard.

Woodyard hits a three, and Penn State, remarkably, clings to a lead here at the Jordan Center.

With 7:56 to play in the half, Penn State is ahead of Minnesota 17-13.

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Minnesota Vs. Penn State First Half Updates: Lions And Gophers Stay Tight

With Andrew Jones off the floor, Penn State needs solid defense out of Billy Oliver here, possibly for the duration of the half. This Minnesota team, while depleted at guard, is tough inside and the Nittany Lions can't afford to skip a beat without Jones. Oliver isn't much of a scorer, but if he can d-up a little, Penn State should be able to weather the storm.

Jeff Brooks picks up a foul. Not good with Jones already off the floor.

Kind of a frantic pace here early on for both teams. Penn State wants to slow that down.

Lots of fouls going both ways, too. Both team already with four to start the half.

David Jackson has been the unluckiest shooter for either team so far. He's had two threes go half way down only to roll out and just missed two free throws. Rims not very forgiving tonight.

Minnesota is getting to the offensive boards with Jones out of the lineup and Brooks playing careful. Penn State better turn that trend around quickly.

With 11:03 to play in the first half, Penn State leads 11-9.

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Minnesota Vs. Penn State First Half Updates: Lions Grab Early Lead

It was a beautiful day here in State College, and it's THON eve, so people are feeling pretty good in town. The crowd is late arriving, but the endzones are already filling in, signaling there should be a decent crowd here tonight. Penn State will need whatever home court advantage it can get.

Tonight will be Penn State's second ESPN televised game of the season. The first was back on Dec. 1 against Maryland. Penn State got blown in that one. Just sayin'.

Lions open the game with 34 seconds of good defense before fouling Colton Iverson of the Golden Gophers. He makes 1-2 to open the scoring.

Jeff Brooks is sporting the flak jacket for the third straight game. He gets Penn State on the board after nearly three minutes without a bucket.

By the way, Penn State's starting lineup tonight was the same as usual: Brooks, Jones, David Jackson, Talor Battle and Tim Frazier.

With 14:59 to play in the first half, Penn State leads Minnesota 8-7.

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Minnestoa Vs. Penn State: Nittany Lions Look For Big Home Win

Make no mistake. The Minnesota team entering the Bryce Jordan Center tonight to face Penn State at 7:00 P.M. on ESPN is by no means the team that raced out to 16-4 start and found itself ranked in the top 20 earlier this season, nor is it the resume building opportunity the Nittany Lions were probably hoping for when it was ranked that high a few weeks ago.

As the season winds down, though, it's a game Penn State has to have to stay in the NCAA Tournament at-large bid pool. Minnesota has lost four of its last five games and will be playing at the Jordan Center tonight without its top two guards, Devoe Joseph, who is transferring to Oregon, and Al Nolen, out with an injury.

The Golden Gophers (17-8, 6-7) do offer a big post challenge for the Lions, though. Forwards Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III both average double figure scoring and Mbakwe also averages double figures in rebounds. Additionally, guys like Colton Iverson can come off the bench and offer solid minutes when those guys are off the floor.

And of course, Blake Hoffarber, averaging 13.6 points per game and leading Minnesota is scoring, is always dangerous on the perimeter. He averages roughly 39% shooting from beyond the arc.

Penn State would appear to have its full allotment of players tonight as Jeff Brooks started on Sunday against Northwestern, and appears at least serviceable the rest of the way, barring a reaggrevation of his shoulder injury.

For more on the game, check out Black Shoe Diaries.

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