But not much more.
The Penn State basketball team briefly threatened to bump the Golden Gophers into the NIT, rallying in the second half after falling behind by double digits before the break.
But even after scoring more points than in any Big Ten game this season, the Lions couldn't complete their comeback and fell, 73-69, in their final home appearance of the year.
That was bubble-icious, Minnesota coach Dan Monson said. Thats a credit to this team. We didnt play as well as we wanted. ... But its not about prettiness; its about the bottom line. This team has character, and it finds ways [to win].
The Gophers improved to 20-9 and 10-6 in the Big Ten, while the Lions, who finish their regular season Saturday at Michigan State, slipped to 7-21 and 1-14. Asked if he thought his teams credentials were tournament-worthy, Monson was glib. Thats like asking me if I think my wife is pretty, he said.
Guard Vincent Grier shined for the Gophers with a game-high 27 points.
The Lions whittled a 14-point halftime deficit to three with 5:22 left in the second half, thanks largely to Morrisseys marksmanship. The freshman guard went 5 of 8 from 3-point range after the break.
We battled, we gave it a shot, Coach Ed DeChellis said. We played hard in the second half and looked like a basketball team. ... We were one shot away or one defensive play away from really making it interesting.
The Nittany Lions began to unravel midway through the first half. Trailing by two, 17-15, they had a chance to take their first lead of the game, but Claxton missed a 3-pointer and Minnesota responded with a 13-0 run.
The Nittany Lions struggled just to get into their offense as the Gophers unleashed a press that flustered Penn States backcourt and produced 15 first-half turnovers, including five by Claxton.
We gave up 17 transition points in the first half, DeChellis said. You cant do that.
Minnesota led 40-26 at halftime, capitalizing not only on the turnovers but on a 29.6-percent shooting effort by Penn State.
The Lions rallied in the second half. A pair of Travis Parker free throws cut the Gophers lead to five, 57-52, with 8:19 to play. But Minnesota responded by firing the ball to Jeff Hagen under the basket for an uncontested dunk. Then Aaron Robinson stepped in front of a Morrissey pass and swooped in for a layup to give Minnesota a 61-52 lead.
The Lions fought back again, drawing within three, 61-58, on a running layup by Parker. But Minnesota never relinquished its lead, answering with layups by Grier and Dan Coleman.
It was the story of the night for Penn State. And, for that matter, the season.
When we needed to make a play offensively or defensively, we couldnt do it, DeChellis said. Thats been a problem for us. ... But our guys hung in there and made a run at it. They didnt give up, and Im not going to let them do that. We had a chance.