Gophers sophomore center Daniel Oturu battled all night with Penn State's frontcourt of Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins, not only physically but verbally during Wednesday's gritty 75-69 win at Williams Arena.
That competitveness spilled over into the postgame handshake line as well. Oturu was so bothered by what Stevens apparently said as their paths crossed that he had to be separated by teammates.
Oturu, who finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds, was facing the Big Ten Network cameras, so his words and heated reaction to Stevens were clearly caught on video.
"Two sides to everything," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said Wednesday about Oturu jarring with Stevens during the game. "Bottom line is especially when you're down let's get a lead or something first (he said jokingly). They got good kids. We've got good kids. It was just a hard fought game."
Stevens and Oturu had a visible squabble early in the second half before Penn State took an eight-point lead.
Oturu and Watkins were later called with offsetting technical fouls when they got into each other's face before the Gophers made their rally to pull away at home in the second half.
"Whenever you play in a tough game like that there's a lot of emotions flying," sophomore guard Marcus Carr said. "That's just natural. You get two teams playing tough and physical. We just had to buckle down, keep our heads in it and stay focused on the win."
This isn't the first time Oturu has been challenged anyway possible by opposing big men -- and it won't be the last. So far, the U's breakout 6-foot-10 big man hasn't backed down to anyone and continues to dominate the paint.
On Thursday morning, Oturu was named to the Sporting News midseason All-America third team. He's averaging 20.3 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and shooting 62 percent from the field for the Gophers (10-7, 4-3 in the Big Ten), who play Sunday at Rutgers.
"[He played] 38 minutes and had two fouls," Pitino said Wednesday. "That's stamina that not a lot of big guys don't seem to have. He's fighting through great fatigue and showing great toughness."