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Minnesota keeps its NCAA Hopes Alive by Beating Penn State 81-63

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

The Gophers beat Penn State 81-63 at Williams Arena. On Senior Night, the Gophers put together one of their most complete performances of the season. If there had not been extended periods of sloppiness the Gophers might have won this game by 40. Five different Gophers scored in double figures. The Four Factors are below.

Team ORtg eFG% TO% OR%
Minnesota 1.274 63.3 18.9 21.7
Penn State .997 45.7 25.3 30.0

After an eight day layoff, there may have been some questions about whether the Gophers would come out sluggish. They put those questions to rest immediately, jumping out to a 20 point lead in the first eight minutes. Pitino played extended stretches with lineups composed of bench players, and Penn State made a late run to bring the game back to single digits in the second half. At that point, Dre Hollins remembered that he's very good at making baskets and scored 8 points in a little over a minute to pull away.

Austin Hollins and Deandre Mathieu led the way in the early going. Hollins played a nearly perfect opening 10 minutes. He finished with 14 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 3 steals. It was a great senior day performance and Hollins was definitely the MVP of this game.

Mathieu was able to get into the lane seemingly at will. He also made two 3pt shots on his way to a 16 point performance. As I've said in previous recaps, if Mathieu can demand teams defend against his 3pt shot he has the speed to get by anyone. The Gophers offense is simply more dangerous if he can hit that shot consistently. He will need to cut down on silly turnovers, but once again posted a positive assist/turnover ratios.

Maverick Ahanmisi had 13 points on 5-8 shooting (3-6 from behind the arc). He even had a heat check at the end of the second half. Ahanmisi has always been a potent shooter on catch and shoot situations. It will be interesting if he sees more playing time in the next few games with Malik Smith's shooting struggles.

Mo Walker was unguardable in the deep post. Penn State does not have anyone on the roster who can deal with his size. Walker finished with 16 points and added 4 rebounds and 3 assists. In the next matchup with Penn State, the Gophers will need to look to him every chance they can.

Other notes:

In a move that defines class, Oto Osenieks was able to check in to play on Senior night. He inbounded the ball and then was promptly removed.

I would watch an entire show of nothing but Richard Pitino reacting to events on a basketball court. Hopefully GoAUpher was able to capture some of the wonderful moments.

The Gophers play Penn State again in the first round of the Big 10 Tournament. Another performance like today will go a long way to getting into the NCAA Tournament. I think every fan would be thrilled if Minnesota's seniors never play another game in the Barn.