basketball Edit

PSU Hoops survives in 1st round of Big Ten Tournament, tops Minnesota

Jalen Pickett caught fire in the second half as Penn State overcame a rough offensive start to top Minnesota, 60-51, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament,

It was a slow first half offensively for both teams, but especially Penn State. Despite that, it was a clean half with just eight fouls and seven turnovers between both team.

Penn State and Minnesota put up just four total points in the first four minutes and change. Out of the first media timeout, the Nittany Lions’ Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy made a triple and three free throws, respectively, to take an early lead.

Minnesota’s Jamison Battle, however, pulled the lead back to Minnesota with two-straight 3-pointers of his own. Battle kept his Golden Gophers in this one nearly singlehandedly throughout the night.

Sam Sessoms hit from deep before the under-12 media timeout to rip the lead right back for Penn State, but Minnesota took solid control shortly after.

The Golden Gophers went on an 8-0 run over roughly five minutes, while Penn State went 0-for-8 on the stretch. The drought was finally ended by a Sessoms layup late in the first half, but there wasn’t much doing for either team the rest of the way.

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Penn State shot an abysmal 32% from the floor in the first half and just 3-for-12 from deep. Minnesota didn’t light it up, though, as it shot 42% en route to a 28-24 lead at halftime.

Staying true to its second-half team archetype throughout the year, Penn State started the second half in much better shape than the first.

Pickett drilled a 3-pointer and Lundy nailed a pull-up jumper to retake the lead with just over 16 minutes to go.

Both teams’ offenses caught some rhythm in the ensuing possessions as Lundy found his stroke on a couple of occasions, and Battle was keeping his team in it.

Pickett helped open it up for Penn State after converting an and-1 on the offensive end, extending the Nittany Lion lead to six points. The transfer point guard was on fire down the stretch, skyrocketing to 20 points while extending his team’s lead.

Penn State, however, went cold down the stretch. The Nittany Lions did not score for over four minutes and turned it over three times in the same stretch, but Minnesota was just 1-for-8 in the same stretch, allowing Penn State to hold its lead.

John Harrar broke the scoreless stretch with a minute and a half to go, and he turned away a Minnesota shot on the next possession before another Pickett turnaround jumper. The scores stretched the lead to nine with roughly a minute left, all but solidifying the victory for the Nittany Lions.

Pickett’s 22 points and his second-half outburst was the story of the game in a matchup with little offense most of the way. He added seven rebounds and four assists to aid his star performance.

Penn State shot at a much higher clip in the second half, as has been the case all year, at 59.1% and only turned it over six times. Minnesota faltered to 32.1%

Sessoms and Lundy both hit double figures with 14 and 11, respectively. John Harrar missed out on another double-double with just six points, but he dragged down 12 rebounds.

Minnesota’s five starters played the entire game. Battle led the way with 19 points, and Payton Willis, Eric Curry and Sean Sutherlin all scored 10 points. Luke Loewe had just two points.

The Nittany Lions move on in the tournament to face Ohio State on Thursday, with tipoff set to occur around 9 p.m.


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