Freshmen Al Nolen and Blake Hoffarber led Minnesota to a 76-73 victory over the NIttany Lions in Happy Valley on Saturday afternoon.
The Gophers, who trailed by 16 points early in the second half, came back to claim the first Big Ten road victory of the Tubby Smith era on the strength of five second-half Blake Hoffarber three-pointers and strong play from seniors Lawrence McKenzie, Spencer Tollackson and Dan Coleman.
The Nittany Lions looked to get the last shot in regulation, as they owned possession with under :30 to play. However, opportunistic true freshman Nolen speared a cross-court pass and drew an intentional foul on the following fast-break to put himself at the line with :05.6 left. Nolen converted on both free throws and on 1 of 2 more after the Big Ten leader in steals per game was fouled on the subsequent inbounds play.
Needing a 3-point field goal to tie the score, PSU's Talor Battle had a buzzer-beating attempt fall harmlessly short to give the Gophers their first Big Ten road victory since last January.
Minnesota's win snapped Penn State's seven game winning streak.
Hoffarber and Tollackson each finished with 19 points to lead the Gophers in the scoring column. With 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, Coleman recorded his second consecutive double-double.
McKenzie, playing with an injured right hand, hit a big 3-point bucket to put the Gophers ahead 73-72 with 3:14 left. The senior finished with 12 points.
As the Gophers rallied in the second half, PSU struggled to put the game out of reach, going 8 for 21 (38.1%) from the charity stripe in the second stanza.
Reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Geary Claxton and Battle each scored 19 points to lead the Nittany Lions. Claxton, who pulled down seven offensive rebounds, was forced to sit out significant time in the waning minutes of the game to avoid fouling out.
Minnesota's depth and Tubby Smith's willingness to play all his players came in particularly handy on Saturday afternoon, as each of the Gophers' five starters finished with four fouls.
Penn State held a 38-25 rebounding advantage in the contest, including 13-4 edge on the offensive glass.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with PSU and Minnesota trading the lead several times. PSU held a 38-35 halftime edge. The Gophers started the contest 1 of 10 from beyond the three-point arc, and Penn State's 7 of 14 start from long range propelled the home team to a 58-42 advantage with 12:58 to play.
The Gophers (12-3, 2-1) return home to face Big Ten conference stalwart Indiana on Thursday evening at 8:00 at Williams Arena.