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Stevens’ Career-High 33 Points Powers No. 22 Penn State over Minnesota 83-77

Courtesy of GoPSU sports
Nittany Lions win sixth Big Ten Conference game in a row

BOX SCORE: No. 22 Penn State 83, Minnesota 77

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Led by senior Lamar Stevens’ career-high 33 points, the No. 22 Penn State men’s basketball team (18-5, 8-4) topped Minnesota (12-11, 6-7) 83-77 on Saturday, Feb. 8. The Nittany Lions won their sixth-straight game in front of a sold-out crowd of 15,261 fans in the Bryce Jordan Center.

“I’m really proud of my team, (they were) just so resilient in the second half,” said Penn State men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers. “Richard [Pitino] does a great job. He doesn’t get enough credit for his coaching…I thought our guys hung tough, and (when) they cut it to three, no bad body language, really good huddles, really sound huddles. Now obviously MJ [Myreon Jones] being sick, and kind of hurt our end of game stuff because usually he has the ball in his hands and then Mike [Watkins] being in foul trouble. We basically had two starters down and we were able to find a way. I thought Lamar Stevens really stepped up in critical points. Myles Dread made some big plays, Brock [Izaiah Brockington]. I thought everybody contributed to the success.”

Penn State never trailed, but Golden Gophers connected on all eight of their 3-pointers in the second half to nearly erase the Nittany Lions’ double-digit lead. Minnesota got as close as three points, 71-68, at the 4:48 mark. A clutch field goal and free throw by Stevens and a trey by sophomore starter Myles Dread pushed Penn State back up by nine, 77-68, with 3:13 to play.

“And what a great atmosphere,” Chambers said. “I’m so thrilled that everybody likes this team, and they came out today to support this team because I can tell you this, when they did cut it to three and we got some stops, the fans got back into it. It gave us just enough energy and push to be able to finish the game off.”

The Golden Gophers chipped away at the 10-point lead in the final minute, but went 2-8 from the field while sending the Nittany Lions to the line on their possessions. Penn State made enough free throws in the final 1:13 for the 83-77 final.

Both teams lit up the building in the second half, but Penn State had the edge at 56.7 as Minnesota cooled off to 54.1. Golden Gopher guard Marcus Carr scored 18 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes, getting to his 20-point total by the 10-minute mark and helping Minnesota trim the lead to single digits.

Sophomore guard Izaiah Brockington scored three of the next four baskets for a 67-56 PSU lead with 8:12 left in the game. Brockington finished with 10 points and Curtis Jones Jr. added seven and Watkins four as the Nittany Lions’ bench offensive output registered a 21-7 advantage over Minnesota.

Oturu had four points and Alihan Demir added two to pull Minnesota within four points, 69-65. Junior guard Jamari Wheeler sliced through the paint for a layup and six-point Nittany Lion lead, 71-65, before Golden Gopher Gabe Kalscheur’s three made it 71-68.

Penn State built on an early 11-4 lead and extended it to seven again, 17-10, after Oturu scored six-straight points to put Minnesota in double digits at the 14:40 mark. The Nittany Lions’ couldn’t capitalize on the Golden Gophers’ scoring drought and over the next two minutes Minnesota snuck back into the game at 19-14 and 21-16.

Wheeler nailed a straight-away 3-pointer to put Penn State up 24-16 and a Stevens basket gave the Nittany Lions their first double-figure lead of the night at 26-16 with 6:40 left in the first half.

Brockington sent the Nittany Lions into the locker room with thunderous fastbreak slam as the Nittany Lions led Minnesota 36-22 at the end of the first half of play.

Minnesota center Daniel Oturu turned in a double-double with 32 points and 16 rebounds to pace the Golden Gophers.

Penn State travels to Purdue on Tuesday, Feb. 11, for its next Big Ten matchup before returning to the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday, Feb. 15 vs. Northwestern. Both games will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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