Ed DeChellis' crew opened the game on fire, and behind rookie forward David Jackson's five-of-five shooting effort built a 31-18 lead. But the Golden Gophers shaved it to 37-35 at the break and then scored the first 11 points of the second half to gain control.
A late PSU rally came up short and Minnesota walked away with a 75-68 win.
With the loss, Penn State fell to 12-14 overall and 4-10 in the Big Ten. Minnesota improved to 17-9 and 7-7.
After hitting 64 percent of their shots in the first half, including six of nine 3-pointers, the Lions went cold early in the second. The Gopher lead reached 65-52 on a Dan Coleman free throw with 4:42 remaining before Penn State finally pulled out of its funk.
Guard Stanley Pringle began to penetrate and kick, leading to a pair of Danny Morrissey 3-pointers, the second of which cut the lead to 66-64 at the 2:37 mark. Gopher Lawrence Westbrook countered with a pair of free throws. After Pringle missed a 3-pointer, Westbrook hit a jumper to boost the lead to 70-64 to seal it.
Junior forward Jamelle Cornley paced Penn State with 20 points and went over the 1,000-point mark for his career with a jumper early in the game. He was the only Lion who scored in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Jackson had a career-high 19 points and eight rebounds before fouling out, and Morrissey hit four of five 3-pointers en route to 14 points.
But freshman point guard Talor Battle struggled for the Lions, missing all eight of his shots.
The Gophers had four players in double figures, led by Westbrook's 15.