Taking advantage of a season-high 25 turnovers committed by Penn State, the University of Minnesota men's basketball team (16-7, 8-4) defeated the Nittany Lions (6-17, 1-11) 77-62 in Williams Arena today. The win is the seventh in the last eight games for the Golden Gophers and the sixth straight at home.
After Penn State cut the Minnesota lead to two at 38-36 with 17:30 left in the game, the Golden Gophers responded with a 12-2 run, capped by a Michael Bauer three-pointer to take a 50-38 lead with 14:39 remaining. The Lions trimmed the lead to 50-42 a minute later but that was as close as Penn State would get.
Minnesota opened a 23-15 lead on a Jerry Holman jumper with 8:31 left in the first half but Penn State closed to 27-25 on a Brandon Watkins leaner with 4:27 remaining. However, a 9-3 Gopher run, capped by a Rick Rickert trey with 22 seconds left in the half gave Minnesota a 36-28 halftime lead.
Rickert tied a season-high with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Bauer posted his third career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds while Maurice Hargrow added 16 points.
Watkins led Penn State with 20 points and five assists while Sharif Chambliss added 15 points. Aaron Johnson had 12 points and a game- high 14 rebounds.
Minnesota plays at Michigan State on Wednesday night. The game is set for a 6:00 p.m. tip.
Minnesota leads the all-time series 15-6 (including games later vacated by Minnesota due to NCAA infractions). Minnesota leads the series 10-1 in Minneapolis. Minnesota is 4-2 and has won the last four against Penn State under Monson...Minnesota has won seven of its last eight games and six straight at home...Minnesota is 52-15 at Williams Arena under Monson...Minnesota set the season record for blocks with 160. The previous record of 154 was set in 1982-83...Rick Rickert reached double figure scoring for the 15th straight game and the 19th time this season. He has 41 career double figure scoring games...Rickert topped the 20-point mark for the 13th time in his career and the third time in the last four games. Minnesota is 11-1 when Rickert reaches 20 points...Rickert tied a season-high with 26 points. He has posted 26 three times this season. Rickert has averaged 22.5 points over his last three games...Rickert tied a career-high with 11 field goals made...Maurice Hargrow scored in double figures for the 20th time this season and the 21st time in his career...Jerry Holman scored in double figures for the 13th time this season and 25th time in his career. Minnesota is 20-5 when Holman scores in double figures for his career...Holman scored his 500th career point in the second half. He also grabbed his 250th career rebound...Michael Bauer posted his third career double-double and first this season with 11 points and 10 rebounds...With two three- point field goals, Bauer has made at least one three in each of the last 12 games...Bauer scored in double figures for the 17th time this season and the 49th time in his career...Bauer tied a career-high with six assists. He also had six against Penn State on Jan. 29...Bauer moved into a tie for sixth on the single-season three- point field goal list with 51 treys this season. Willie Burton is fifth with 52...Minnesota had a season-high with 18 steals. The 18 steals ties for the second-most in school history...Minnesota forced 25 Penn State turnovers, the most by a Minnesota opponent this season.
Dan Monson - Minnesota Head Coach
"We didn't play our best game that we have. I thought we took a step back in the rebounding department. We came out with lots of energy in the wrong places. We rushed the ball. But to defend our players, we won the game by 15 points. We're not going to play perfect every game. We didn't play bad, we just didn't really play well."
"I'll take this win. It's a good thing to wonder what's wrong, but we won at home. Our record and the media and the home court - none of that puts that ball into the hole or rebounds or defends. According to them, we're supposed to lose the next four, but like I tell the guys, we still have to play them."
Jerry Dunn - Penn State Head Coach
"Once again our turnovers haunted us throughout the game. Mentally we did not have all five guys on the court at once, which hurt us. We had a lot of open looks, but did not take the shots that we should have taken."
"We hurt ourselves as much as Minnesota's press took us out of the game. Psychologically we were burned. I have a lot of expectations and I set high standards for this team. We are young and we played well without the turnovers. We need to continue to take points and start taking care of the basketball."
"Minnesota has improved since our last meeting, especially on defense. That is key. They are also getting continuous support and points from the bench which takes pressure off of the starters."
Maurice Hargrow - Minnesota Guard
"Four games to go, I couldn't have dreamed of a better position. We have a chance to win a Big Ten Title, and even though we have a tough road ahead of us, I know this team is capable."
"Tonight we started sluggish, and a lot of that has to do with Penn State. Give them credit. Once we got going, we were able to take control of the game like we have been able to do at home this season, and hold off a late run at the end."
"The great thing about this team is that we have so many guys capable of having a big game on any given night. Today it was Rick [Rickert], but any other game it could be Jerry [Holman], Mike [Bauer], or myself. And I think that depth is what's going to carry us to a Big Ten Title."
Mike Bauer - Minnesota Forward
"The chase for the title is on. We need to stay focused and put all of our effort and emotion into reaching our ultimate goal. We have one of the toughest schedules left in the conference. So if we come out on the top, we truly will be the best team in the Big Ten Conference."
"I felt we played a good game today. Besides a lapse in each of the halves that let them back into the game, I felt overall we really executed our game plan. I'm kind of mad at ourselves because in the second half, it ended up costing our reserves some time on the floor."