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Minnesota comes back to snap 8-game road skid with 68-65 win at Penn State

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Minnesota stormed back from an eight-point halftime deficit to break an eight-game road losing streak with a 68-65 victory over Penn state, as the Nittany Lions lost for the fourth time in their past five games.

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – Penn State senior guard Tim Frazier and junior forward Ross Travis turned in veteran performances to lead the men’s basketball team on Wednesday evening but their efforts fell short as the Nittany Lions dropped a 68-65 decision to Minnesota at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The loss was the third straight for the Nittany Lions and fourth in their past five games, while Minnesota snapped an eight-game road losing streak with the victory.

For the third straight game, Penn State either led or was within two points at halftime, only to lose the game in the second half.

"We’re doing everything we possibly can to learn how to finish games. It’s in their hands now," said head coach Patrick Chambers. "They have to make the plays down the stretch."

Frazier notched a game-high 20 points and eight assists while Travis registered his eighth career double-double with 18 points and a career-high tying 13 rebounds.

Sophomore Brandon Taylor also posted double figures in scoring with 10 points and pulled down seven boards for the Lions (9-7, 0-3 Big Ten) while freshman Geno Thorpe turned in a season-high seven points in his first career start.

Penn State led the Gophers (13-3, 2-1 Big Ten) by as many as eight in the second half, but late-game free throws turned out to the be advantage for the Gophers, who have now won eight of their last nine games. The Nittany Lions were 2-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final three minutes of the game, well below their season average of .747 coming into the game.

"We practice end of game situations. We’ve been there before," said Chambers. "Frazier’s been there before, Travis has been there before. We have to make free throws."

The Nittany Lions shot 37.9 percent (22-of-58) from the field, 15.8 percent (3-of-19) from 3-point range and 62.1 percent (18-of-21) from the free-throw line. Minnesota edged PSU in each of the shooting categories, shooting 41.2 percent (21-of-51) from the floor, 25 percent (4-of-16) from beyond the arc and 64.7 percent (22-of-34) from the charity stripe. The two squads were even in boards and turnovers with 39 and 14 apiece, respectively.

DeAnre Mathieu set the pace for the Gophers, recording a team-high 16 points while Andre Hollins tallied 14 points and Elliot Eliason posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Gophers jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the contest. Eliason dropped in a layup for the first two points of the game, Austin Hollins added a jumper and Oto Osenieks knocked down a 3-pointer. Frazier put the Lions on the board with a pair of free throws at the 16:49 mark to bring Penn State within five until Eliason turned in another layup and Maurice Walker added a jumper and a free throw to bring the count to 12-2.

A floater from Frazier gave the Lions their first field goal of the game seven minutes into the action and Travis and Allen Roberts tacked on a jumper and a free throw to counter another layup by Walker as the scoreboard read 14-7. A trey from Osenieks gave the Gophers their largest lead of the contest at 17-7 before Frazier took over, dropping six points on two jumpers and a pair of free throws to bring the Nittany Lions back within four.

The Nittany Lions surged ahead after an 8-3 run on a Taylor 3-pointer, a layup by John Johnson, three Frazier free throws and a layup by Thorpe. Eliason answered with a layup and Andre Hollins knocked down two free throws but it proved not enough as PSU added 10 additional points before the half, putting the count at 35-30.

Minnesota was able to chip away during a second-half in which Penn State hit just 11-of-28 shots. A Frazier trey three minutes into the half gave the Lions their largest lead of the contest with the count at 42-34 but the Gophers would quickly cut the deficit to three points as Andre Hollins notched a jumper and a 3-pointer leading into the first media break.

"Minnesota plays very good defense, they change their defenses up a lot," said Chambers about the second half struggles. "We have to take open shots when they’re there. We’re squeezing the air out of the ball. We need to relax, we need to exhale, take the open shots that you have and shoot it with confidence."

Penn State managed to hold on to the lead until the 6:11 mark, when Mathieu drained two free throws to knot the game at 51-51. The Lions regained the lead on a Travis jumper but were unable to maintain it for long as Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins and Mathieu combined for five points to put the Gophers ahead 60-59.

Penn State tied the game up at 60-60 but Frazier fouled out with one minute remaining and Minnesota closed the game out at 68-65.

Penn State returns to the court on Saturday afternoon to host the Hoosiers of Indiana. Tip is set for noon at the Bryce Jordan Center.

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