Battle's Big Night Buries Gophers

After a dominating victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes the Gophers looked to get a key road win again Penn State on Thursday. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Talor Battle and the Nittany Lions sunk the Gophers by a score of 66-63, leaving the Gophers 17-9 overall and a mediocre 6-8 record in the Big Ten.

The Gophers started the game with a quick 3-0 lead after a Colton Iverson free throw and a Rodney Williams layup. Talor Battle quickly set the tone for the rest of the game by hitting a three after a Jeff Brooks jumper to give the Nittany Lions in early lead. Minnesota quickly scored twice more with buckets from Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson.

Again, Penn State rallied by nailing two more shots from deep, to make the score 11-7 in favor of the hometown Nittany Lions. The remainder of the first half was a back and forth affair, highlighted by the play of Trevor Mbakwe and Talor Battle. Going into the break, Mbakwe had 10 points and 10 rebounds while Talor Battle had 14 points, giving Penn State the lead by a score of 29-28.

The second half began with Penn State extending their lead with a 3-pointer by Tim Frazier and a nice jumper by Andrew Jones. Blake Hoffarber and Ralph Sampson answered with 3-pointers of their own to cut the lead to just one. Under a minute later Talor Battle again responded with a string of six unanswered points to begin an 11-2 run by Penn State.

With the score 47-37 and only nine minutes left in the game, Minnesota needed to make a charge. They did this with threes by Hoffarber, Austin Hollins and Rodney Williams. Hollins silenced the crowd with his cold-blooded deep ball on the fast break and Williams brought the team within two as the shot clock was winding down.

Again the game went back and forth until 2:12 left when Colton Iverson put home a nice pass from Hoffarber to make the score 60-57. It looked as though Minnesota was going to get the victory after a David Jackson miss but Andrew Jones gobbled up the board and put it back to make it a one point game.

After an ill-advised three by Hoffarber, Battle came down the court and a shot from behind the arc to give Penn State the lead, 62-60. On the next possession, Hollins didn't see a pass as it sailed out of bounds and the Gophers were forced to foul.

With Battle only making one free throw due to a lane violation, Minnesota quickly got the ball to Hoffarber who nailed a three with eight seconds left, leaving the Gophers down by a point. Minnesota fouled Battle quickly who only hit his second free throw making the score 66-63.

With just five seconds remaining, the Gophers were down three with an opportunity to tie. Maverick Ahanmisi got the ball up the floor and into the hands of Hoffarber who chucked up a desperation three that fell short at the buzzer, giving the Nittany Lions of Penn State the victory, 66-63.

Inside the Game

The story of the game was the play of Talor Battle who ended the game with 28 points on 8-for-15 shooting from the field and hitting 7 of 14 from behind the arc. Battle had an answer every time the Gophers looked like they might make a big run. Battle torched Minnesota's zone throughout the night, almost single handedly winning the game for Penn State.

Trevor Mbakwe had a dominant first half, recording a double-double, but cooled in the second, ending with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Blake Hoffarber played a very solid game for Minnesota, tallying 18 points and seven assists with only two turnovers. Hoffarber shot 6-for-13 from deep, leading the Gophers who—as a team—shot 42% from behind the 3-point line.

One of the main factors of the game was the turnover differential. Penn State only gave the ball up five times while Minnesota gave it away 13 times.


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