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Penn State 86, Minnesota 77: Stellar Final Six Minutes Sparks Nittany Lion Rally

No 0-6 start this year for Pat Chambers, whose late-game adjustments saved face in the BJC.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

With six minutes to play in the ballgame, Minnesota's Joey King nailed a wide-open three-pointer from the left corner. The shot helped push a hot-shooting Minnesota team's lead to eight points at 71-63 and seemed like the straw that might finally break Penn State's back...

A funny thing happened on the way to another 0-6 start in Big Ten play however, as Penn State wound up finding its second wind defensively while simultaneously catching fire themselves shooting the ball, scoring the next 16 straight points while shutting out the Gophers until the final minute of play. The end result was PSU finishing the game on a 23-6 run to produce an 86-77 victory in what ended up being quite the shootout on a night where the Bryce Jordan Center celebrated its 20th anniversary of being the home for Penn State hoops (ironically enough, PSU's first ever home game at the BJC was against Minnesota on January 11th, 1996).

Four Factors Analysis

Team Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 70 1.23 57.3% 32.3% 14.3% 56.4%
Minnesota - 1.10 63.5% 21.7% 24.3% 43.8%

When the final score is 86-77 between two teams not known for playing up-tempo or scoring a lot, it shouldn't be shocking to see both teams with effective shooting percentages well above 50%. Also, when Penn State wasn't giving up three pointers galore, they were actually quite productive in the turnover department, as their full-court pressure helped lead to 17 Minnesota turnovers.

Player of the Game - Payton Banks (24 points, 8-11 FG's, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists)

Banks was Mr. Do-Everything tonight, whether it was scoring on reverse layups reminiscent of Julius Erving versus the Lakers in the 1980 NBA Finals en route to a career-high 24 points, playing stingy defense, crashing the boards, or setting up his teammates for good shots. His consistency throughout the game was vital, especially when Shep was slow to get going early on (Garner was held to merely four points in the first half before finishing the game with 20 points).

Random Observations

  • Josh Reaves is good at shooty hoops - "No, duh..." you may say, but it certainly bears repeating. With Minnesota having re-taken a three-point lead midway through the second half, Reaves slashed and threw down a beautiful two-handed dunk in a Minnesota defender's face and on the subsequent Gophers possession, stole the ball and drew a foul on the other end. It's the little things like these that can help spark some life in the team and Reaves has been the guy lighting the match more than his fair share of times this season.
  • Duquesne Deja-Vu? HAHA NOPE - Minnesota nailed over half of its three-point attempts (the Gophers were 11 of 20 from downtown) but somehow it wasn't enough for them. If anybody reading this can recall a previous time where the opposing team shot this well from downtown and PSU still came out on top, please enlighten me.
  • BT's Dimes - Brandon Taylor was a constant threat operating out of the low post, whether it was creating for himself (18 points on 13 shots) or for others (five assists). BT hasn't been much of a facilitator throughout his career but his ability to find cutters and shooters from the low block certainly made a difference tonight. -CM
  • Looking Ahead

    Penn State plays host to Michigan State at the Jordan Center this Sunday, Sunday, Sunday at high noon. The perimeter defense will have to see significant improvement from tonight in order to have any hope whatsoever of pulling the upset, but for now, it sure feels a lot better to be going into this one off a win than the opposite. Say a prayer that national player of the year candidate Denzel Valentine needs another few days to recover from injury.