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Hello, CBI? Minnesota Defeats Penn State In Big Ten Tournament Opening Round, 63-56.

The Gophers got an absolute must-win to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Meanwhile, Penn State awaits its own postseason fate, with the CBI being the only realistic possibility.

Andy Lyons

Unfortunately, the third time was not the charm for the Penn State hoop stars. Once again, ugly shooting, turnovers, and a hot start by Minnesota, got Penn State into an early 9-0 hole. PSU would fight back to cut the deficit to five points by halftime. Despite seeing the deficit balloon back up to as high as 13 and in danger of getting out of hand the way last Sunday's game at the Barn did, PSU managed to make it interesting towards the end. At one point in the final three minutes, Minnesota missed five consecutive free throws, allowing PSU to get the deficit down to within three.

Unfortunately, that was as close as they would get, as Minnesota's Andre Hollins nailed a game-sealing three pointer with less than 20 seconds to play, ensuring that the Gophers' NCAA bubble would stay intact for at least another night. For Penn State, it means the end of one of the more wildly inconsistent Big Ten seasons in recent memory (sweep Ohio State, beat Indiana and Nebraska, but get swept by Illinois, and lose thrice to Minnesota).

DJ Newbill led the way for PSU with 16 points and 7 boards, and continued that aggressiveness we've become accustomed to seeing all year. Geno Thorpe and John Johnson also had pretty decent efforts, themselves, scoring 9 and 8 points respectively, and hitting some very timely shots to keep the game within PSU's grasp in the second half. The Hollinses, Austin and Andre poured in 18 and 13 points themselves, respectively.

Four Factors Analysis

Team Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 61 0.92 36.4% 36.6% 16.5% 23.7%
Minnesota - 1.04 51.0% 21.2% 14.8% 47.9%

Not a whole lot to say about this, except that low PPP for PSU is affected by porous field goal shooting (19 of 59 from the floor). That is simply not going to cut it against a team like Minnesota. The offensive rebounding advantage is also mainly a result of PSU rebounding its own misses.

Player of the Game

Tim Frazier put together an extremely gritty effort (11 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal), and put forth an effort reminiscent of a player who knows his collegiate career is coming to a close very soon. If tonight was indeed his final performance in a PSU uniform, then he certainly went out with guns blazing.

Random Observations

  • Manute Bol He's Not - Did anyone else get a good chuckle over Jordan Dickerson being forced to attempt a three pointer after receiving an inbounds pass on the perimeter with just five seconds on the shot clock?
  • Pat Chambers' Late Gamble - Chambers' decision to not foul down three with a nine second differential between the shot and game clock ended up biting him in the end and led to some criticism on the Internets. Personally, I think it was the right call. With that much time differential between the game and shot clock, you need to trust your players to come up with a stop. Nobody's complaining if Andre Hollins' three pointer rims out and PSU rebounds with a chance to send the game to overtime.
  • Never Bench Geno Again...Ever - Geno Thorpe will be a fun one to watch over the next few years, his athleticism, defensive tenacity, and timely baskets helped to keep the game from completely getting out of hand in the second half. Hopefully, the benchings for 'poor choices' were just a part of him maturing as a first-year college student.

Looking Ahead

The Nittany Lions (15-17, 6-13 B1G) will likely found out on Selection Sunday whether their season will continue on with an invite to the CBI, which is where certain teams who don't make the NCAA or NIT end up. Before you scoff at the idea of a sub-.500 overall team getting an invite, I'd like to remind you that Purdue got in just last year with a 15-17 record.