Physical U tops

Murali Balaji

When Gophers guard Ryan Keating — who could be easily mistaken for a member of a campus chess club — entered the ballgame with a little more than a minute to go, everyone, including the Penn State Lions, knew it was officially over.
Minnesota, playing the role of schoolyard bully, pummeled the Lions 75-60 to earn its first Big Ten victory of the season. The Gophers won by obliterating Penn State on the boards and shutting down center Calvin Booth down the stretch.
Forward Miles Tarver and center Joel Przybilla combined for 23 rebounds, leading the way for the Gophers to hold a commanding 47-25 advantage in that department. While Przybilla, who finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocks, received the postgame attention, it was Tarver who earned the praise of coach Clem Haskins.
“Miles may have had his best all-around game tonight,” Haskins said. “We have guys like Quincy (Lewis) and Kevin (Clark) who can score, but the heart and soul of this team is Miles Tarver.”
Using his lanky 6-foot-8, 225-pound frame, Tarver became a one-man enforcer in the paint, ripping down rebounds with authority while constantly disrupting the rhythm of Penn State’s half-court game. Tarver finished with nine points, 10 boards and five assists.
Lewis led all scorers with 24 points, but he merely played second-fiddle to his frontline mates. The plan was to stop Booth while creating an effective inside game on the other end of the court, both of which were executed to the highest degree.
“We looked at the Northwestern game and realized we weren’t helping Joel as much as we should have,” Tarver said, referring to Wildcats center Evan Eschmeyer’s one-man domination of the paint against Minnesota on Wednesday.
Indeed, it seemed as if Booth, whose long and awkward-looking body disguises his deceptive strength and quickness in the paint, would follow-up Eschmeyer’s performance with a devastating effort of his own.
Booth scored eight points in the first eight minutes and, whenever he faced a double team would kick it back to forward Titus Ivory or guard Greg Grays for an open look at a three-pointer. In fact, the Ivory-Booth combination worked enough to give the Lions a 19-16 advantage in the first half.
But Lewis and guard Mitch Ohnstad combined to score the team’s last 11 points, allowing Minnesota to pull away for 35-27 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Gophers made the weary Lions bite their dust. Booth was knocked out of his rhythm and began forcing shots, allowing Przybilla to ensconce himself in the middle and shut down the low post.
“He was getting a lot of points in the first half, but I just manned him more,” Przybilla said. “I played him much more physical in the second half. I just went out there and was more aggressive.”
Obviously, the key to the Gophers’ victory was their ability to capitalize on their stingy defense, force turnovers and put the ball in the hoop.
“It’s a big difference when we make some shots,” Haskins said. “Tonight we made shots.”
Haskins said the team had come out flat against Northwestern, but was ready to play Penn State after intense practices.
“We’re getting back into sync,” he said. “It’s good getting back to our winning ways.”

MINNESOTA (75)
Lewis 9-14 5-7 24, Tarver 2-3 5-6 9, Przybilla 7-10 3-5 17, Nathaniel 1-5 0-0 2, Clark 3-8 6-8 13, Sinville 1-1 0-0 2, Ohnstad 4-7 0-0 8, Keating 0-0 0-0 0, Broxsie 0-1 0-0 0, Dusty Rychart 0-2 0-0 0, Sanden 0-3 0-0 0.
Team Totals 27-54 (.500) Three-point FG 2-5 (.500) FT 19-26 (.731)
Total Rebounds: 47 (Przybilla 13) Assists: 15 (Tarver 5) Blocks 8: (Przybilla 6)
PENN STATE (60)
Ivory 4-8 2-2 14, Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Booth 6-15 5-6 17, Earl 5-13 0-0 12, Grays 1-4 2-2 5, Crispin 1-10 0-0 3, Krimmel 1-1 2-2 4, McGovern 0-0 0-0 0, Cline-Heard 1-6 3-6 5, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Witkowsky 0-0 0-0 0.
Team Totals 19-59 (.322) Three-point FG 8-25 (.320) FT 14-18 (.778)
Total Rebounds: 25 (Ivory 6) Assists: 14 (Crispin 6) Blocks 3 (Booth 2)
Attendance: 14,798