Minnesota headed east to University Park for a Wednesday night matchup with Penn State. Coming in, the Gophers looked to add on to its five-game win streak in the series, while the Nittany Lions were coming off their first Big Ten win in a clobbering defeat of Rutgers. Both teams have struggled with the first half of their Big Ten schedule. With its now 2-7 Big Ten record, Minnesota has yet to win a conference game on the road.
The 1st Half steadily swayed back and forth, but Penn State had a momentum shifting 10-0 run near the seven minute mark that would give the Nittany Lions the upper hand going into halftime 33-23. Minnesota came back in the 2nd half, giving Penn State flashbacks of its blown nine point halftime lead over Purdue two weeks ago. Luckily for Penn State, combining Minnesota's turnovers and D.J. Newbill's control on offense, the Nittany Lions finished with an alternate ending for their visitors from Minneapolis.
So what did we learn from Penn State's second Big Ten win?
What We Learned
Both Teams Need To Clean It Up
Sloppy play plagued both Minnesota and Penn State throughout all 40 minutes. Penn State finished with 13 turnovers, while Minnesota had 15. The Gophers may have punctured the final wound in their failed attempt at a comeback with two turnovers in the final 30 seconds of the battle. A 3-pointer would have tied the game, but instead turnovers gave the Nittany Lions the opportunity to take a five point lead with 9.8 seconds remaining.
Newbill's Spotlight Is Beneficial For Penn State
Penn State's D.J. Newbill leads the Big Ten in scoring at 23.1 points per game. In response, opposing teams favor Newbill on defense, allowing other PSU players open shots. In the 1st Half of Wednesday night's game, Newbill was held to just two points, while Donovan Jack, Geno Thorpe and Payton Banks combined for 23 of the Nittany Lions' 33 first half points. Newbill scored ten points in the 2nd Half, along with 11 rebounds, giving him his fourth career double-double.
Penn State Rolls Deep
With Brandon Taylor out with a knee injury, the Penn State bench was called to step up to replace his averaged 9.9 points per game. Jack came up big defending the rim with four blocks, while contributing six points. Although scoreless in the 2nd Half, Banks headlined the 1st. He scored 3 threes in the 1st Half, easily surpassing his season average of 1.8 points per game. Other bench players, Jordan Dickerson and Devin Foster, combined with Banks for 23 points on the night.
This game did not show much for two teams struggling in the Big Ten, but it did emphasize the potential in the Nittany Lions. Heading to Champaign for a matchup with an injury prone Illinois team on Saturday could be just what Penn State needs to help its Big Ten record. For Minnesota, it still needs to figure out a way to win on the road, and that can probably start with a few less turnovers.