Minnesota lost to Penn State 79-76 at the Barn. D.J. Newbill hit a three pointer as time expired to give the Nittany Lions the win. With the win, Penn State sweeps the season series. With the loss, the Gophers must now wait to see what seed they will be in the Big Ten Tournament, with a realistic shot of playing Penn State again. Minnesota finishes an incredibly disappointing 17-14 on the season and 6-12 in the Big Ten.
Minnesota started off the game lethargically, once again allowing a poor shooting three point team open looks. It will be imperative in the offseason to completely reevaluate how the Gophers play half court defense. Frequently, players were lazy on rotations. Defenders also sucked down into the post for no reason, an issue that plagued the Gophers all season.
Offensively, the Gophers were led by Mo Walker and Joey King. Walker had a double double with 26 points and 12 rebounds. He also added two assists and a steal, and even finished 10-14 from the free throw line. Minnesota's run back to the lead in the second half began when the Gophers began to explicitly feed the post. Walker was simply too much for any Penn State defender, and the failure to get him involved earlier was a problematic tactical move.
King had 19 points (4-7 shooting on threes). He also successfully (inexplicably) used a pump fake to get to the line to tie the game in the final seconds. He also managed to take another charge on a fast break opportunity.
Andre Hollins started the game with three straight threes, but went cold in the second half. The senior finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal in his final regular season game. Hollins also played solid defense against D.J. Newbill for much of the game, trading off with Nate Mason.
Mason had a rough shooting performance, finishing with just 7 points on 3-10 shooting. Early on the game, his jump shot appeared off. With that said, the freshman found ways to influence the game with four assists and a steal. He should have had more assists, but other Gophers were unable to knock down shots.
Barring an improbable run in the Big Ten Tournament, this is the end of the season for the Gophers. A season with great promise ended with a whimper. It is an unfortunate season for both the players and fans, but hopefully will be a growing experience for the returning players and coaches.