MINNEAPOLIS — After an upset victory at home over No. 4 Michigan, Penn State came out flat against Minnesota and never threatened Saturday.
The Golden Gophers — coming off their own upset of No. 1 Indiana — ran away early with a 16-0 run to start the game en route to a 73-44 victory.
The Nittany Lions failed to score for more than 11 of the game’s opening minutes. D.J. Newbill, who finished with 15 points, finally tallied with 8:42 left in the half.
Penn State looked like a team struggling to find its legs after an emotional win over the Wolverines that earned its first conference win and snapped a 14-game conference losing streak.
Instead, the energy seemed to belong to Minnesota on senior night at Williams Arena where the Gophers received big nights from the class playing its final home game.
Trevor Mbawke was the strongest and most physically imposing player on the court. The senior finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Gophers in both categories.
He also had a thunderous, two-handed dunk over Nick Colella that gave his team a 20-6 lead and ignited the crowd with 6:42 remaining in the first half.
Fellow senior Julian Welch finished with 10 points and a game-high seven assists. Rodney Williams Jr., also a senior, scored 10 points, added seven rebounds and treated the crowd to some acrobatics to end the half.
Newbill shot just 2-of-16 from the field for Penn State, but managed 10-of-14 from the free-throw line.
Jermaine Marshall, who entered the game averaging 19 points over his last four games, finished with 10 on 3-of-8 from the field. Marshall was saddled with foul trouble early, picking up two fouls in the game’s first three minutes. The whistles came just nine seconds apart.
Ross Travis returned to his home state and finished with eight points and three rebounds on 3-of-8 shooting.
As a team Penn State (9-19, 1-15 Big Ten) shot just 13-of-48 from the field for 27 percent. The Nittany Lions were also just 3-of-14 from the three-point line after a 10-of-20 night from distance against the Wolverines.
Just five players scored for the Nittany Lions in the game. In stark contrast, the Gophers got double digits from five players and points from nine total.
The Gophers (20-9, 8-8 Big Ten) closed the half with a 34-12 lead after Welch drove into the teeth of the defense but got in trouble near the foul line. He lobbed a bad pass to Williams, who had to reach back with his left hand, but still somehow had the dexterity to cram the ball through the rim with one motion.
Penn State shot just 5-of-23 from the field in the half and 0-of-6 from the 3-point line, while Minnesota went 13-of-25 and 4-of-10 from the three-point line.
The second half was more of the same, as the Gophers left nothing to chance. If their senior class opened the show, their underclassmen closed it.
Minnesota got 12 straight points in the second half from sophomore guard Joe Coleman (his only points of the night). Fellow sophomore Andre Hollins finished the game with 11 points and a game-high three 3-pointers.
The Gophers were the more physical, aggressive team all night. They finished with 41 rebounds to just 20 for Penn State. They also shot 50 percent from the field (27-of-54) and dealt out 20 assists.
Penn State mustered just two offensive boards in the game and finished with nine assists and nine turnovers.
The Lions will travel to Northwestern (13-16, 4-12 Big Ten) Thursday. The Wildcats’ roster has been ravaged by injury and they have lost eight of their past nine games.