Gophers take first step toward NCAAs with Big Ten tourney win over Penn State

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 14, 2014 - 11:43 AM

The Gophers had to beat Penn State to keep their NCAA tourney dreams alive.

view larger photos

  

– Those two inspiring yet agonizing words never were spoken pregame, even if they bounced through every player’s brain.

NCAA tournament.

The Gophers knew they’d need a victory to keep their tournament hopes alive. It was a game they’d been playing in their heads for weeks, but one never more cut-and-dried than in the first round of the Big Ten tournament Thursday night, when a loss would have sent them home to wait.

“We didn’t really talk about it, but we definitely knew,” point guard DeAndre Mathieu said. “If we didn’t win this one, there was no chance of us getting to the NCAA tournament. We all watch ESPN, we watch the bottom line with the bracketology.”

The Gophers’ tournament résumé slightly improved with a 63-56 victory over 10th-seeded Penn State after allowing the Nittany Lions to charge back.

Andre Hollins finally stopped that charge by nailing a three-pointer with 15 seconds left to send the Gophers up 62-56 and all but cinch the victory.

“When he hit the shot, in my mind, that sealed the deal,” center Mo Walker said. “It takes a lot of guts to take a shot like that, but he made it.”

Penn State (15-17) shot only 32.2 percent from the field, and Minnesota (20-12) turned the ball over only nine times on the other end. Austin Hollins was once again a major factor, finishing with a game-high 18 points and adding two assists and two steals. In the past four games, the senior guard has compiled 75 points, rebounding from a sluggish start in Big Ten play.

The Gophers will play No. 2-seeded Wisconsin in the second round Friday. Minnesota split the two-game season series with its border rival, with each team winning its home game.

Andre Hollins said that second-round matchup added an extra layer to the first game: Beat Penn State and the Gophers would get another shot at the Badgers, ranked No. 12 in the country, and an opportunity for another quality victory to impress the NCAA selection committee.

For most of the game, Minnesota beat up on Penn State, despite the Gophers’ sloppy stretches and allowing their opponent to pull down 15 offensive rebounds. But the Nittany Lions plowed back from multiple double-digit deficits.

A 13-point Gophers lead at 51-38 with a little more than seven minutes on the clock disintegrated when John Johnson sank a three-pointer and then sandwiched a layup-and-one combination from D.J. Newbill with another three ball. The sequence instigated a 20-3 run to bring Penn State within 58-54 with 2:35 left.

“They made three three-point plays in a row,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “That segment got to us a bit.”

The Nittany Lions pulled within three at 59-56 with 45 seconds remaining after Brandon Taylor knocked down a pair of free throws

Minnesota missed half of its final 14 free throws, but Hollins’ shot made good on the Gophers’ early dominance.

Going into the game, most bracketology analysts were in consensus that Minnesota was out of the current field. Thursday’s victory, combined with some convenient losses by other bubble teams — Arkansas, California and Utah — gives the Gophers an opportunity to slip back in. Still, many analysts believe Minnesota needs a victory vs. the Badgers to stay there.

“We’re trying to do something in Minnesota that’s never been done before, and that’s win a Big Ten championship,” Austin Hollins said. “We have one goal right now … if we do that, we won’t have to worry about anyone making a decision for us.”

 

  • related content

  • BOXSCORE: Gophers 63, Penn State 56

    Thursday March 13, 2014

  • For Gophers' last shot, 'Who else besides Dre?'

    Friday March 14, 2014

    Andre Hollins’ clutch three-pointer finished Penn State.

  • Postgame: Not stylish, but Gophers advance to 2nd round

    Thursday March 13, 2014

    It wasn't the prettiest win ever, but it got the job done. The Gophers face 2-seed Wisconsin at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

  • Gophers-Penn State game recap

    Thursday March 13, 2014

    GAME RECAPImpact playerAndre Hollins, GophersAfter sitting because of foul trouble for much of the game, the junior guard came up...

  • Minnesota guard Andre Hollins (1) battles for the possession of the ball against Penn State guards D.J. Newbill and Geno Thorpe (13) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Big Ten Conference tournament, Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Indianapolis. Minnesota won 63-56. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Minnesota guard Maverick Ahanmisi, left, collides with Penn State guard Geno Thorpe in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Big Ten Conference tournament, Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close