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Gophers edge Penn State, 65-64

Jordan Murphy nabs a career high in rebounds for Minnesota.

Posted: Jan 20, 2019 10:03 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After a sluggish start, Jordan Murphy cleared his head and put his team on his back, and Minnesota narrowly avoided a second straight bad loss.

Murphy scored 19 points and tied a career high with 21 rebounds as the Gophers rallied past Penn State 65-64 on Saturday night.

Amir Coffey and Eric Curry each scored 11 points and Dupree McBrayer's free throw with 2.7 seconds left provided the winning margin for the Gophers (14-4, 4-3 Big Ten), who escaped a repeat of Wednesday night when they lost by 27 at previously winless Illinois.

Lamar Stevens scored 27 points, while Mike Watkins added 10 points and nine boards for the Nittany Lions (7-12, 0-8), who lost for the second straight game after leading at halftime.

Murphy was held to four points and four rebounds in the first half as Penn State took a 38-30 lead at the break. A conversation with coach Richard Pitino helped him regain focus and led to a huge second half for the senior forward.

"Coach just told me to keep my mind on rebounding because I was too much in my head in the first half," Murphy said. "He just told me to keep my mind on rebounding, just getting stops, then everything else would follow, so that's what I did."

Pitino praised his team for not letting one bad loss snowball into a losing streak that could derail a promising season.

"We had to look ourselves in the mirror. When you lose like that, the way that you lose and you don't compete, that's a problem," Pitino said of the Illinois game. "Even today, we weren't an offensive masterpiece by any means, but we fought and we got tougher as the game went on."

Minnesota trailed by 11 early in the second half, but began its comeback with an 18-5 run that included four straight missed free throws by Penn State. When Coffey hit three straight free throws, the Gophers had their largest lead of the game at 61-54 with 5:43 to play.

But Stevens scored on a putback that started a 7-0 run for the Nittany Lions to tie the score and set up a see-saw finish that came down to the last shot.

Stevens had a chance to put Penn State on top but he missed a pair of free throws with 2:40 to play. Minnesota then regained the lead when Murphy went 1-for-2 from the line on the other end.

Murphy pushed the Gophers' lead to 64-61 when he dunked home his own missed shot with a minute to play. But Stevens tied the game with 11.1 seconds left when he converted a three-point play after drawing a foul on Murphy and scoring down low.

On the Gophers' final possession, McBrayer drove to the hoop and drew a foul with 2.7 seconds to play. He hit the second of two shots to give Minnesota the lead, and Stevens missed an 18-foot shot at the buzzer to give the Gophers the victory and Penn State another frustrating loss.

"I thought we deserved to win this game," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We played well enough to win this game on the road. I think free throws, again, were our Achilles heel, really hurt us. So we've got to keep working on free throws. They made theirs."

The Gophers hit 17 of 21 free throws in the second half while the Nittany Lions went 9 for 16.

Stevens scored 17 points in the first half and the Nittany Lions shot 56 percent from the floor — including 5 for 8 on 3-pointers — en route to a 38-30 lead at the break.

But Minnesota held Penn State to 28 percent from the field in the second half as the Gophers recovered from their Illinois hangover just in time.

"We're gonna have to win ugly," Murphy said of the message Pitino gave the team at halftime. "That's something that I think we all embraced going into the second half, and I think that we all made it our duty just to get stops."

BIG PICTURE

Penn State: The Nittany Lions still haven't won in the Big Ten but they've been excruciatingly close. On Wednesday against Iowa they led by five at halftime and were tied with two minutes to play but couldn't hold on.

"I think we're the best 0-8 team in the country, I really do," Chambers said. "We're in every, every game."

Minnesota: The Gophers needed this one with a trip to Ann Arbor coming up and No. 2 Michigan coming off a loss at Wisconsin. Plus a second straight ugly loss against a non-contender could have been a disaster.

"We just said we're gonna learn from it and grow from it," Curry said of the Illinois loss. "I guess we showed that tonight."

UP NEXT

Penn State: Hosts Rutgers on Saturday.

Minnesota: At Michigan on Tuesday.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926931

Reported Deaths: 9740
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1809132056
Ramsey749811054
Dakota68505591
Anoka64961589
Washington41119367
Stearns34021287
St. Louis29939416
Scott26281188
Wright26260226
Olmsted22677131
Sherburne19206130
Carver1687671
Clay12219108
Blue Earth1162171
Rice11578139
Crow Wing11318124
Chisago1005281
Kandiyohi9913108
Otter Tail9908130
Benton9174128
Beltrami8249100
Goodhue822699
Douglas7967101
Itasca779999
Mower740049
McLeod723384
Winona715158
Isanti711085
Steele695034
Morrison678681
Becker631675
Polk608987
Freeborn569947
Carlton552577
Mille Lacs539479
Lyon532961
Nicollet528561
Nobles527954
Pine521143
Cass505255
Todd496443
Brown473661
Le Sueur464736
Meeker437960
Martin391344
Waseca381433
Wabasha380110
Dodge366412
Hubbard357649
Roseau320532
Fillmore310115
Wadena306040
Redwood283845
Houston275317
Renville271651
Faribault261835
Sibley256017
Pennington254830
Kanabec254437
Cottonwood232933
Aitkin225052
Chippewa222043
Pope209910
Watonwan201121
Yellow Medicine189925
Koochiching179225
Rock178429
Swift174124
Stevens170211
Jackson162016
Clearwater159421
Marshall154822
Murray152911
Pipestone150929
Lake134124
Lac qui Parle124425
Wilkin122016
Mahnomen108314
Norman10579
Grant102410
Big Stone9585
Lincoln8915
Kittson74623
Red Lake71810
Traverse6086
Unassigned563124
Lake of the Woods5285
Cook3141

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 532160

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Unassigned64520
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
Clarke163629
Montgomery163146
Keokuk152639
Palo Alto152332
Howard150624
Monroe144340
Ida134141
Greene128818
Davis126825
Lucas126127
Monona124940
Worth12309
Pocahontas122125
Adair118239
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Taylor100914
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Van Buren95922
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Audubon77617
Adams5869
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