Boone’s second half upsets Happy Valley

Senior guard Adam Boone scored all 20 of his points in the second half.

by C.J. Spang

With Minnesota’s men’s basketball team coming off a loss to Ohio State, and Penn State reveling in their eye-popping upset over Illinois, the Nittany Lions seemed to have the momentum heading into Wednesday’s game.

However, all that momentum wasn’t enough, as the Gophers used a huge second half to down Penn State 77-66 for just their second Big Ten win of the season Wednesday in State College, Pa.

The win was Minnesota’s second on the road this season, and its first road win since Dec. 5 at Arizona State.

Senior guard Adam Boone’s six second half three-pointers might have sealed the game late for Minnesota, but early on, it looked like the Lions were going to dominate the game.

Penn State (11-10, 3-7 Big Ten) seemed to carry its momentum from the Illinois upset into its matchup with the Gophers, as it jumped out to an early 10-0 lead.

That was due in part to Minnesota missing its first seven shots from the floor. The Gophers also failed to score for the first six minutes of the game.

But then the Gophers countered with a 14-2 run, capped off by sophomore guard Rico Tucker’s emphatic left-handed dunk, to pull ahead 14-12 with 7:27 left in the first half.

Despite the run, Minnesota (11-9, 2-7 Big Ten) couldn’t hold onto its lead, and Penn State entered the locker room at the half up 27-25.

Any momentum the Nittany Lions may have had to start the game was quickly squashed by Boone’s monstrous second half.

After being held scoreless in the first half, the senior guard erupted for 20 second-half points on 6-of-9 shooting from three-point range.

The teams traded leads for the first 10 minutes of the half until senior guard Zach Puchtel worked his way inside for a lay-in to give the Gophers the lead for good, 51-50.

The Gophers’ 52 second half points is a season high, surpassing their 45 second half points in a 64-62 loss to Wisconsin on Jan. 10.

Penn State made just two of its final seven shots while Minnesota ” the worst free-throw shooting team in the Big Ten ” hit 11 of its last 13 free-throw attempts to hold on for the win.

Free throws were key throughout the game for the Gophers. Minnesota was 22-of-25 from the charity stripe ” well above its season average of 62.9 percent.

Senior guard Vincent Grier had 16 points ” 14 of them in the second half ” and added eight rebounds and six assists. He was also perfect on 10 free-throw attempts.

Coming off the bench, sophomores Dan Coleman and Rico Tucker had 16 and 11 points, respectively. Coleman also had eight rebounds.

The Gophers bench proved to be the difference, outscoring the Nittany Lions reserves 34-13 on the night.

Penn State was led by senior forward Travis Parker’s 19 points and nine rebounds before he fouled out with 1:36 left in the game.

Also scoring in double figures for Penn State was sophomore swingman Geary Claxton and freshman forward Jamelle Cornley. They had 14 and 10 points, respectively.