Coming off a hard-fought loss at home to Iowa, in which the team no doubt played their hearts out, it would have been reasonable to expect that this PSU team would come out flat on the road in Minneapolis on a Saturday night.
That sure wasn’t the case however, as the opening few minutes saw Josh Reaves blocke a shot on the Gophers’ opening possession and subsequently receive an alley-oop from Lamar Stevens on the ensuing fast break. Reaves then followed that up with a steal and slam of his own. Lamar would also heat up, nailing a pair of free throws and hitting a three-pointer to give PSU an 11-3 lead and forcing Minnesota coach Richard Pitino to burn an early timeout.
The Lions continued to deploy a stingy defense that made life difficult for the Gophers, racking up six steals in total for the first half. The Gophers would catch fire towards the end of the half, hitting six consecutive shots from the field, allowing themselves to whittle a PSU lead that once stood at ten points all the way down to a single point. Big-time shots however from Myreon Jones and Lamar kept Minnesota at bay and gave PSU a 38-30 lead heading into the locker room.
The second half saw Lamar pick up where he left off with an and-one, giving PSU a 41-30 lead, which would turn out to be its largest of the game, and very short-lived because that’s when Minnesota would start to rally. A significant field goal drought of over 12 minutes allowed the Gophers to claw back and eventually take the lead.
With Minnesota seemingly in control with a 61-54 lead with 5:30 to play however, PSU would slowly chip away thanks to a pair of free throws by Lamar, followed by a three-pointer by Myles Dread. Lamar would then add another pair of free throws to tie the game at 61 with 3:29 left. Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy would answer by getting to the line himself, splitting his pair of free throws to give the Gophers a one-point lead. Murphy would then follow that up with a huge put-back dunk with one minute to play.
Lamar however, wasn’t done with the clutch plays: With 11 seconds left and PSU needing to cut into a three-point deficit, he drove to the bucket and banked a shot of the glass while drawing a foul. After converting the free throw, the game was tied at 64. Minnesota’s Dupree McBrayer however, would answer by drawing a foul on the other end with 2.7 seconds left. McBrayer would miss the first, but make the second free throw, giving the Gophers a 65-64 lead.
On the ensuing in-bounds heave, the ball went three-quarters the length of the court before being batted by Minnesota’s Amir Coffey into the referee standing on the sideline. After official review, the clock was reset to 2.3 seconds with Josh Reaves in-bounding the ball near the right side of Minnesota’s basket. Lamar managed to break free and find himself wide open on the baseline, about 10-15 feet from the hoop, catching the in-bounds pass and performing a clean pivot with a clean shot at the hoop. Alas, Lamar’s shot hit the back iron as time expired, completing yet another heartbreaking defeat as the Nittany Lions continue to search for their first Big Ten win in 2019.
Four Factors Analysis
As you can see, both teams had similar numbers shooting the ball and rebounding. The big difference-maker here is in free throws, as Minnesota had 30 trips to the line compared to PSU’s 20. Both teams had their issues with making shots from the charity stripe, as the Gophers hit only 22 of their 30 attempts while PSU went 12-for-20.
Player of The Game
Lamar was the man tonight for PSU, coming up with big shot after big shot to give PSU a chance at the end. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to connect on his biggest shot of the game, but he was hands-down PSU’s best player tonight.
- By catching the ball with over two seconds left, Lamar seemed to have enough time to take one dribble and get a closer shot at the hoop. Heck, he may have even been able to dunk it. Of course, I can’t blame him for taking the shot where he did, as he probably felt during the heat of the moment that he didn’t have time to get any closer. Plus, it’s a shot he’s made countless times before.
- Really, at this point, I have nothing left to say. This season has been an absolute disaster coming off an NIT championship and March can’t get here soon enough, because that’s when the search for the next Penn State men’s basketball coach can begin in earnest.
Penn State gets a full week off before playing host to fellow basement-dweller Rutgers next Saturday, January 26th. Tip-off will be at 4:30 PM ET on BTN.