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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: 452268

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin938131490
Ramsey40370746
Dakota33353349
Anoka31193366
Washington20363231
Stearns17995189
St. Louis13857245
Scott1209197
Wright11723106
Olmsted1068375
Sherburne825766
Carver700138
Clay655582
Rice618070
Kandiyohi556572
Blue Earth545933
Crow Wing487778
Otter Tail460967
Chisago456436
Benton422287
Winona393048
Douglas377266
Nobles373946
Mower370829
Goodhue352661
Polk330559
McLeod326747
Beltrami314048
Morrison313545
Lyon304138
Becker288039
Itasca286443
Isanti284242
Carlton282543
Steele278110
Pine269214
Freeborn251523
Todd232630
Nicollet227537
Brown216934
Mille Lacs214945
Le Sueur212816
Cass209424
Meeker200933
Waseca191916
Wabasha17343
Martin171426
Roseau166217
Hubbard150138
Redwood140827
Houston139714
Renville137940
Dodge13714
Chippewa132032
Cottonwood128418
Fillmore12576
Wadena120517
Rock111212
Aitkin109233
Sibley10917
Faribault108316
Watonwan10688
Pennington100716
Kanabec98818
Pipestone95923
Yellow Medicine94216
Murray9056
Jackson87110
Swift84318
Pope7435
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68714
Lake66015
Lac qui Parle65716
Wilkin6309
Koochiching60210
Lincoln4892
Big Stone4663
Unassigned43768
Grant4358
Norman4248
Mahnomen4147
Kittson37320
Red Lake3194
Traverse2583
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309989

Reported Deaths: 4424
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46587464
Linn17979279
Scott15787171
Black Hawk14037243
Woodbury13093181
Johnson1224652
Dubuque11535159
Pottawattamie9111115
Dallas905972
Story877838
Webster471577
Cerro Gordo471472
Sioux459157
Clinton456167
Warren456139
Marshall429862
Buena Vista396130
Muscatine394978
Des Moines390043
Plymouth352470
Wapello348498
Jasper330159
Lee322632
Marion308152
Jones274250
Henry266131
Carroll258034
Bremer249348
Crawford233524
Boone222017
Washington222033
Benton212250
Mahaska197237
Jackson194331
Tama189959
Dickinson188329
Kossuth178544
Delaware175236
Clay171421
Wright166424
Fayette165024
Hamilton162030
Buchanan161624
Winneshiek159720
Harrison157962
Hardin156730
Cedar155419
Clayton153649
Butler150824
Page146315
Floyd140836
Cherokee139927
Mills138417
Lyon137333
Poweshiek134524
Hancock131424
Allamakee130230
Iowa127422
Calhoun12339
Madison123210
Grundy122128
Jefferson122025
Winnebago121529
Mitchell116637
Louisa115730
Cass114743
Chickasaw113512
Appanoose112040
Sac112015
Emmet111232
Union110723
Humboldt106419
Shelby104727
Guthrie104024
Franklin103218
Unassigned10050
Palo Alto91711
Montgomery88024
Keokuk86126
Howard85019
Monroe81919
Clarke8087
Pocahontas78111
Ida75830
Davis70021
Greene6977
Adair69520
Monona67118
Lucas66410
Osceola64611
Worth6154
Taylor5989
Fremont5246
Van Buren50115
Decatur4954
Ringgold44811
Audubon4208
Wayne41821
Adams2983
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