Game Grades: Minnesota
The Penn State Men’s Basketball team welcomed the Minnesota Golden Gophers into the Bryce-Jordan Center on Martin Luther King Jr. day for a showdown of 13-6 teams. The Golden Gophers emerged victorious by a score of 95-84, after being pushed to overtime.
The Nittany Lions looked great at times, and at others, they looked like they lacked all sense of imagination. When it came down to it, the Golden Gophers just got hot at the right time, and Penn State had no match for it.
84 points is a decent point total to put up in a college overtime game. However, in this case, it clearly wasn’t enough.
At times, the offense looked explosive and was scoring buckets with relative ease. Tony Carr seemed to be able to get to the rim or post whenever he wanted, and when he couldn’t convert, Mike Watkins and Lamar Stevens did a good job of cleaning up.
On the flip side of that, there were moments where the offensive performance looked a bit disjointed. At times the offense appeared to stagnate. Tony Carr would often have to wait at the top of the key for a ball screen, and once it arrived the shot clock would already be below 15 seconds.
Beyond that, it almost appeared as though the Nittany Lions were trying to mimic Minnesota’s offensive style as opposed to attacking the rim at points. Pulling up and taking contested threes is a staple in Minnesota’s offense, and if you can shoot like they can, it makes sense. Penn State, on the other hand, is not a perimeter-oriented team. It seemed as though they got caught up trying to keep pace with Minnesota rather than just attacking the way they always do, which certainly hurt them at times.
The defensive performance from this contest was a pretty difficult one to judge. On one hand, Minnesota did manage to chalk up 95 points, a whopping 21 of which came in overtime, and they managed to hit near 60% from beyond the arc. On the other hand, many of the shots Minnesota hit were of a high degree of difficulty, and could not have been prevented.
The best part of the mediocre defensive performance was how disruptive the Nittany Lions were in the passing lanes. Minnesota finished the game with 12 turnovers, many of which resulted in fast break points for the Nittany Lions. Mike Watkins even got in on the act with two coast to coast dunks coming off steals.
Otherwise, the Minnesota offense just out-executed the Penn State defense. Nate Mason, Dupree McBrayer, and Jordan Murphy all scored over 20 while Jamir Harris managed to chip in 16. Mason made a plethora of difficult shots from outside and Murphy bullied everybody inside. This left McBrayer and Harris open for a plethora of open threes, most of which they knocked down. Minnesota only got six points off their bench, but the damage done by the starters was enough.
I’d say Pat Chambers probably did as much as he could to help give his team a shot at this game. When the game started to get away from the Nittany Lions Chambers would call a timeout, give a fiery speech, and his team would come out playing harder. For that reason, Chambers was probably responsible for the fact that the game wound up in overtime.
Chambers couldn’t figure out a way to stop Minnesota’s hot hands, but he certainly tried to find the right matchups. Nate Mason and Jordan Murphy each saw their fair share of different defenders, but none of it seemed to work with the zone that those guys were in. Chambers deserves credit for changing it up, but in the end, Richard Pitino’s team just went out and beat his.
Patrick Murphy is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.