Sunday, January 13, 2008

Minnesota 76, Penn State 73

UNIVERSITY PARK — Tubby Smith added insult to injury without even realizing it. Minnesota’s basketball coach peered at the stat sheet, his eyes drifting from Penn State’s free-throw column to Minnesota’s free-throw column, which showed 19 Golden Gopher makes in 25 attempts.
“This is the best I think we’ve shot maybe this year,” he said, glancing up at Minnesota’s sports information director for confirmation and receiving a nod in return.
Minnesota’s proficiency at the line only underscored how bad the Nittany Lions were there during the Golden Gophers’ 76-73 win Saturday in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Penn State (10-5, 2-1 Big Ten) let a 16-point lead slip away by missing 13 of its 21 free-throw attempts in the second half, including nine of its final 10. The Nittany Lions, who have struggled all season from the free-throw line, were 17-of-36 (47.2 percent) for the afternoon in a game that threatened to throw a promising season off-course.
“It’s a mental thing,” said star forward Geary Claxton, who made only five of his 12 free-throw attempts and is now shooting 55 percent from the line on the season. “We’ve just got to go up there and shoot em. That’s it.”

The bricks at the line were just about the only mistakes made Saturday by the 6-foot-5 senior, who finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high six assists against a defense that doubled him for the majority of his 36 minutes. The other came in the final seconds, with the score locked at 73-73.
Penn State wanted to get the ball to Claxton in the low post, and did, but the Golden Gophers (12-3, 3-1) swarmed him and he passed the ball out toward the elbow and cutting forward Jamelle Cornley (11 points, seven rebounds). But Minnesota’s freshman point guard, Al Nolen, read the play and picked it off. Cornley grabbed Nolen’s jersey as he broke into the open court and was whistled for an intentional foul.
Nolen calmly made both shots, then one of two on the extra possession with just under five seconds left. Penn State’s Talor Battle's desperation three in time to beat the buzzer was well short.
With his former high school team sitting among a crowd of more than 10,000 fans, Battle played the best game of his three-month Penn State career.
The 5-11 point guard scored a career-high 19 points and had just one turnover in 36 minutes against a bouncy Minnesota defense that forced 16 other turnovers. But, after making four of his first five free throws Saturday, Battle missed his final two during a wild sequence in the final seconds.

1 comment:

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Looks like it was nail biting match. Thanks for posting all the highlights. This post must have helped all the fans especially those who missed watching the game live.