Saturday, January 14, 2017

Minnesota marches into Penn State in mens hoops

The Penn State Nittany Lions have one of the poorest overall records among its Big Ten mens basketball competitors. Led by sixth year head coach Patrick Chambers, the Lions have, however, compiled a 2-2 conference record heading into its home contest today against Minnesota.

Coach Richard Pitino, suffice it to say, could not have been pleased with his Gophers performance Wednesday night. Playing at Michigan State, the Spartans ended Minnesota’s three-game winning streak by delivering the Gophers its biggest loss of the season – a 65-47 defeat (Minnesota’s previous largest loss was 75-67 at Florida State on November 28). Now, the challenge for this team will be to regroup and focus on Penn State.

Minnesota (12-3, 3-2 conference) had few bright spots in its loss Wednesday against the Spartans. But perhaps the loss – particularly the margin of loss – will serve as a wake-up call and inspire the team to dig deep and fight back. It will have its hands full, though. Penn State (10-7, 2-2) features five players who average double figures in scoring and is coming off a win against Michigan State – a team the Gophers have lost to twice.

There’s little doubt the Gophers have had a brighter season than Penn State, overall, but it’s these current conference matchups that count more than ever now.

Minnesota enters today’s contest led by junior point guard Nate Mason (averaging 14.3 points and 5.4 assists per game). Penn State is led in scoring by junior Shep Garner – who averages 12.8 points per game – while freshman Mike Watkins has a team-high 8.4 rebounds per game.

The Gophers and Nittany Lions tip off at 11:00 a.m. (Central Time) at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center.