Saturday night a pair of struggling teams did battle at The Barn. Penn State entered the game losers of 5 of their last 6 games, while Minnesota entered the contest riding a 5 game losing streak while being just 1-9 in their last 10 games.
In the battle of struggling teams it was the Golden Gophers who were able to come out on top. Following a 76-70 victory Minnesota improves to 12-10 on the season and are now 3-10 in conference play. As for the Nittany Lions, for the first time this season they find themselves three games under .500 at 9-12. Micah Shrewsberry’s squad is now 4-10 in conference play.
Turnovers played a big role in Penn State’s undoing on Saturday night. This included a vital late turnover by Seth Lundy. With a little over a minute remaining in the game and the Nittany Lions trailing 68-67 Lundy stepped out of bounds underneath the Minnesota basket. The Golden Gophers then went down the court and scored to make it 70-67. While this turnover was far from Theo only one that contributed to the loss it was arguably the most costly.
This was the 8th loss Penn State suffered this season by 8 points or less. Their last three losses have come by just a combined 10 points. To this team’s credit they never go down without a fight.
Even though the Nittany Lions came up short they continue to outperform preseason expectations. Penn State has played hard all season and Shrewsberry is cultivating a great culture in Happy Valley. Once he gets his players on the roster and rising the talent level things should get fun.
Four Factors Analysis
Player of the Game
There is an argument to be made for Sam Sessoms, but the nod goes to Seth Lundy. Lundy shot 6/9 from the field, including 4/5 from three-point range. Lundy’s 16 points were second to only to Sessoms’s 18, and he pulled in 4 rebounds to the 5 Sessoms had, but Lundy shooting better on the day gives him the edge.
Eric Curry killed the Nittany Lions - John Harrar’s foul issues was a factor, but Eric Curry had a career night for Minnesota and it played a huge role in the Golden Gopher victory. Curry had foul issues himself that kept him the bench for a big chunk of time down the stretch but he finished with a career high 22 points while shooting 53%, including sinking his only three-point attempt of the night.
Turnovers were costly - Losing the turnover battle is never a recipe for success. Committing 10 more turnovers than your opponent? That’s almost always going to be a loss. Penn State committed 13 turnovers in the loss while Minnesota turned the ball over just 3 times.
Strong three-point shooting not enough - As a team Penn State shot 54.7% from the field, which included going 53.3% from three, while the Gophers shot just 48.3% and 50.0%. Lundy was 4/5 from three-point range and Myles Dread was 3/3, Dallion Johnson sunk a three as well. Even though the Nittany Lions shot better from the field, three-point range included, it was not enough in the loss.
Next up for Penn State is a home clash against no. 17 Michigan State on Tuesday night. The Nittany Lions and Spartans will tipoff at 6:30 PM on the Big Ten Network.