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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Penn State vs Minnesota LIVE BLOG:

Penn State takes on Minnesota in Minnesota as both teams will face off in their first BigTen match-ups of the season. Members of the staff will conduct a live blog below:

Final Stats - Click to Enlarge

:00-Well, the Nittany Lions hung in tough, gave Minnesota more of a fight than perhaps they were ready for and expecting, but in the end, the Gophers pulled away as time ran down and knocked off the Lions 75-70. Lawrence Westbrook was the difference in this game, scoring essentially at will. The senior made 11/16 of his field goals for 29 points, and simply was too much for Penn State. Today, the Lions showed how desperately they miss last year's senior guard Stanley Pringle. Pringle would shut down scorers like Westbrook on a nightly basis. Does Frazier have the ability to follow in his footsteps? He has played just 13 games at the collegiate level so far, and we will find that out with time. Overall a solid performance by the Nittany Lions. They finally seem to be establishing some sort of inside presence as Andrew Jones had his best game of the season. Penn State will have New Year's to spend with their friends and families but will head back to Happy Valley to take on Trevon Hughes and the Wisconsin Badgers on January 3. Once again, Penn State falls to Minnesota 75-70. Thanks for sticking with us through the entirety of this great game.

-Ryan Staloff-

4:22- Let's be honest, Penn State vs. Minnesota is all well and good, but the fans would much rather see eight of the ten players on the court find the bench. This has turned into the Talor Battle and Lawrence Westbrook show, as they just exchanged long three pointers. These two players are arguably the two best in the Big Ten, and are the clear leaders of their respective teams. (RS)

6:30 Where is Stanley Pringle when you need him. Penn State cannot stop Lawrence Westbrook. The senior guard now has 19 points and simply cannot miss if he tried. He is 8/11 from the field, and just answered a D.J. Jackson three pointer with a long field goal of his own, to give Minnesota a two point lead. If Tubby Smith's team comes away victorious, the coach can thank his senior guard. (RS)

7:30 We have just reached the third media time out of the second half, and Penn State has begun to revert back to their play early on. The Nittany Lions are trying to run with Minnesota, leading to sloppy play and turnovers. Lawrence Westbrook just hit a three to give the Gophers a three point lead. Penn State needs to find a way to break the press, as that has been there major flaw all game long. If they can find a way to slow the game down and turn this into a half court game, they can still win this. (RS)

9:23-Talor Battle just hit a shot from the moon. He was at least 3 feet beyond the three point arc and hit it like it was a free throw (or in his case...) Battle has been rather quiet in the second half before knocking down that huge 3. The Lions now lead by two points. This game is going to be close to the final whistle. Stay right here as we take you to the final whistle and beyond. (RS)

12:00-Just 12 minutes separate Penn State from their 9th victory on the season as they now lead Minnesota by four points with Battle going to the line for two free throws. DeChellis is currently playing a huge lineup with D.J. Jackson playing the shooting guard position on the defensive end. It appears DeChellis is making a determined effort to sit Tim Frazier, as he has yet to play in the second half. Look for Penn State to continue to go inside to Andrew Jones, as he has been the focal point of the offense in the second half. (RS)

14:40-Penn State takes a five point lead on the Jeff Brooks three pointer. This is easily the best that the Nittany Lions have played all year. Jones is continuing to exert himself in the middle for the Lions, as he now has 12 points on the night. (RS)

15:56-After four minutes of second half action at the Barn, the Lions trail by just two points. They seem to have transformed into a completely different team in the locker room and are playing at a whole new level in the second half so far. Ed has the team running sets, getting the ball inside, and playing defense. Battle is finding Jones inside, and the center is converting on the open shots. If Penn State can keep this up, the team may actually pull this off. (RS)

18:00-We're two minutes into the second half and Penn State has come out on FIRE! The Lions have knocked down their first three shots of the half and Andrew Jones is making his presence felt down low. Jones now has eight points on the night and is not shying away from Ralph Sampson, Damian Johnson, and the rest of the Minnesota forwards. (RS)

Halftime Stats - Click to Enlarge

0:00- We have reached half time at The Barn as the Minnesota Golden Gophers lead the Penn State Talor Battles 34-27. It has been a one man show, as usual, for Penn State, as Talor Battle once again proves to be the only source of consistent scoring. Battle leads all scorers, along with Lawrence Westbrook, with 11 points. Andrew Jones has 6 points for the Lions in one of his better games so far this season. In the second half, DeChellis must go back to playing Tim Frazier. Minnesota is meeting Penn State in the back court. Battle needs a second ball handler to help him in breaking the press. The Lions did a much better job keeping Minnesota off the glass toward the latter part of the first half, and must carry this success over to the second half. If Penn State is able to run their sets offensively, find help for Battle on the offensive end, and continue to rebound defensively, than they might have a chance at defeating Minnesota. (RS)

:50-Penn State takes a time out just before half time as they trail only five points. The Nittany Lions have really gotten after it on the glass of late, and that has been a key factor in the team's recent surge. Penn State now is on a 9-4 run, and will try narrow the deficit heading into halftime. (RS)

3:48- At the four minute mark, Penn State somehow only trails by 6. Talor Battle leads all scorers with 11, with no other Nittany Lion converting on more than two field goals. Penn State is hanging on for dear life right now, and desperately needs to gain control of the tempo, slow the game down, and establish a defensive presence to have a chance. (RS)

6:24-As we reach our third media time out, E Echellis needs to start stressing defense to his players if he wants to get the d's back in his name. Penn State is simply not getting back on defense after each possession, and Minnesota is scoring at will. The team is only trailing by 8, but that difference is sure to expand very soon if Penn State doesn't improve on defense. (RS)

8:40-Talor Battle is single handedly keeping this team in the game. Battle hit his third three of the game to get the Nittany Lions within five points. Someone has to step up for Penn State to have a chance. Otherwise, it appears, at least early on, that the Lions will struggle to come away with a victory. (RS)

15:02-Minnesota continues to bring the full court press, and Penn State is struggling to break it. Bill Edwards just turned the ball over trying to bring the ball up the court. Coach DeChellis needs to go to his bench and put in Tim Frazier, the team desperately needs another ball handler to help Battle. (RS)

15:51-At the first media time out, Penn State leads 7-5. The big bucket came from none other than Talor Battle. Battle caught the inbound pass well beyond the three point arc, but nailed the shot anyway. So far, it appears that Minnesota is trying to expose their advantage in the low post, and should be interesting to see of David Jackson, Andrew Jones and company can defend the Gophers. (RS)

18:00- Penn State starts the game with a bigger lineup, leaving Tim Frazier on the bench. With Minnesota running a full court press, it will be left entirely to Talor Battle to break the defensive pressure as the only ball handler. (RS)

19:05: Penn State coming out in a 2-3 zone to try to defend the bigs of Minnesota. Andrew Jones draws a charge to give Penn State the game. Jones will have his hands full all game long in trying to establish a defensive presence down low for the Lions. (RS)

7:30 PM - Penn State opens up its conference slate with a tough road test at Minnesota. While it is only the first conference game, this game can and will tell us a lot about Penn State. The Nittany Lions are a team with high season. After a 10-8 conference record last year (2nd best in school history) and a 4th place finish, Penn State figures to end this season much lower. It's not that the Nittany Lions don't have the talent. Ed DeChellis' squad is just too young and too inexperienced. Of course, Penn State has its weaknesses, but who doesn't. Even top contenders Ohio State (injury to Evan Turner), Purdue, and Michigan have their faults, granted they are much tougher to find. The Big Ten is just too good for Penn State this season. Purdue is a Final Four team. Michigan State is too. Whether it's these teams veteran leaders (Robbie Hummel, Kalin Lucas), or their tough defenses, Penn State can not compete. Talor Battle is good enough for an occasional upset, but not good enough for another winning campaign in one of the nation's deepest conferences. Besides the front-runners, Minnesota will be tough. It's always difficult to play a Tubby Smith led team, let alone open up with the Golden Gophers in the barn. Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin, slow-starting Michigan, and even Northwestern figure to be in the NCAA Tournament hunt. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. If you thought the losses in the Charleston Classic were rough, remember there still may be a few more potholes along the way.

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