Tubby Smith's Golden Gophers shot an unprecedented 9-for-9 from three, JUCO transfer Devron Bostick enjoyed a coming-out party and Penn State left historic Williams Arena having been thoroughly whipped 79-59.
It was the most complete 40 minutes of the Smith era. The Gophers executed in the half-court set in a way that we haven't seen in years. Players were cutting with authority, running hard off of picks and making the type of entry passes that allowed the Gophers tremendous half-court success.
And the team defense didn't hurt either. Smith continued switching up defenses--full-court, 2-3 zone, high pressure half-court man--and flustered the Nittany Lions. The result was 11 Gophers steals (14 Penn State turnovers) and 8 Gophers blocks.
For the game, Minnesota shot an ungodly 62 percent from the floor, a byproduct of being iron hot, but also the aforementioned efficiency on offense. Leading the offensive charge was Bostick, who finished with 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting. Bostick scored inside, he scored off the dribble and as a spot-up shooter. Last year's JUCO Player of the Year finally looked the part.
Fellow JUCO transfer Paul Carter (actually a sophomore) had a coming out party of his own, finishing with an energy-filled 14 points on 5-for-6 from the field. Freshman Ralph Sampson III gave Minnesota an inside presence and finished with 10 points and three blocks.
Aside from the individual performances, Minnesota continued to dominate off of the bench. While the starting five played just fine, it was Minnesota's reserves that stretched the team's first half lead. Back-up freshman point guard Devoe Joseph pushed tempo extraordinarily well. Bostick and Carter couldn't miss. Three point artist Blake Hoffarber didn't fire from the outside, but contributed with nice passes to the interior and by crashing the boards.
All of that combined to give Minnesota 47 bench points. Comparitvely, Penn State's bench only accounted for 15 points. Really, that's an astonishing differential.
Despite the score, not everything was golden for the Gophers. The team committed 14 turnovers. And the Gophers gave Penn State far too many second chances (14 offensive rebounds). That will be plenty for Smith to harp on in the coming days.
The hot-shooting Gophers got off to a quick start thanks to junior leader Lawrence Westbrook. With both teams feeling out the other early, Westbrook stepped up and scored Minnesota's first 9 points.
Moving forward to a trip Thursday to Madison, Wisconsin, the Gophers will need confident leadership from players like Westbrook. Because the display you saw Sunday, an amazing offensive performance, will be hard to repeat.