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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Upset No.24 Minnesota 52-50

by on January 14, 2017 3:15 PM

Penn State overcame a 14-point deficit to upset No. 24 ranked Minnesota 52-50 and to improve to 3-2 on the year in conference play.

How It Happened:

Penn State started sloppy and Minnesota hit shots as the visiting Gophers took advantage of a poor shooting afternoon en route to a 20-8 lead with 10:08 to go in the first half. The Nittany Lions would hang around though and cut the deficit to just eight points with 5:53 remaining as Josh Reaves sank a free throw to break a long scoring drought.

The brief comeback wasn't to be as Minnesota once again pushed ahead with eight quick points to eventually go up 14 to the tune of a 32-18 margin with 1:43 to play in the first half. A Shep Garner jumper and a Mike Watkins dunk in the final seconds of the half cut that to a 32-22 halftime margin.

Penn State's defense was much better in the second half and a key aspect of the Nittany Lions' comeback, but the offense continued to struggle for the opening five minutes of the frame. A dunk by Julian Moore and a deep three by Payton Banks cut the lead to just six with 16:29 to go. Minnesota would lead by no more than six in the final 14:03 as Penn State came storming back.

Both teams traded baskets down the stretch and a basket by Eric Curry put Minnesota up three points at 48-45 with 3:27 to go. Just moments later Payton Banks answered with a three from the right side of the arc that tied the game for 22 seconds before Nate Mason's jumper put the visitors up by two.

From there two Mike Watkins' free throws tied the game with just over minute to play and Josh Reaves' rebound with 28 seconds to play off of a missed Banks' three gave the Nittany Lions the ball to end the game.

Tony Carr's first attempt on a drive to the hoop was blocked out of bounds but Carr would later be fouled, sending the freshman to the line with six seconds left. Sinking both attempts, Penn State led by two and the Gophers never got a good look at the basket as time expired.

It Was Over When:

Tony Carr sank two free throws with just over six seconds to go to give Penn State a two point lead. From there it was defense.

Stat Of The Game:

Both teams combined for 38 total turnovers and scored 31 points off of those turnovers in one of the sloppier games of the season. Penn State won a key battle though, scoring 17 second chance points while Minnesota managed just five. The Nittany Lions also outscored Minnesota 27-13 off the bench. Penn State shot 28 percent from the field in the first half and just 3 -percent in the second. The key was the Nittany Lion defense turning Minnesota's 46 percent clip in the first half to just 28 percent in the second.

Player Of The Game:

It's hard to accurately describe the kind of all-out game that Josh Reaves had for Penn State on Saturday as the sophomore piled up nine points, eight rebounds and five steals en route to a do-it-all performance. Mike Watkins also gets a nod here with a 15-point, 15-rebound double-double. 

Up Next:

Penn State hits the court again at the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tip against Indiana.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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