Penn State Looks to Turn Things Around against Minnesota

Story posted January 15, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Tyler Stephenson

The Penn State Nittany Lions (9-9, 1-4 Big Ten) will play host to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-5, 1-4 Big Ten) at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.

The Golden Gophers are 7-3 in their past ten regular season matchups with Penn State, but the Nittany Lions got some payback with a two game season sweep of Minnesota last year.

The Nittany Lions will try to get bounce back from a 70-58 loss on the road to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who snapped a four game losing streak by picking up the victory over a struggling Penn State squad. Penn State head coach Pat Chambers and his squad were led in defeat by Tim Frazier’s 30-point effort, and Sasa Borovnjak who had 8 points off the bench. The Nittany Lions will need to shoot better than their poor 33.3 percent effort in Lincoln this past Wednesday if they want to have a chance to win.

Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith and his Golden Gophers are coming into Sunday’s game riding high after a shocking upset over eighth ranked Indiana on the Hoosiers' home floor. Sophomore guard Austin Hollins led the Gophers with 18 points, while junior forward Rodney Williams chipped in 12 points and 6 rebounds. The win ended a four game losing streak and gave the Gophers a huge résumé boost come tournament time.

The Nittany Lions will rely heavily on junior guard Tim Frazier who is tied for the lead in the Big Ten in scoring (18.1 ppg) and is leading the conference in assists (6.1 apg). He continues to play well this season despite receiving little consistent help in the scoring column.

Rodney Williams (10.4 ppg and 5.9 rpg) and junior guard Julian Welch (10.2 ppg) lead the Golden Gopher attack. The team continues to miss their best player, Trevor Mbakwe, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Mbakwe led the team in points (14.0 ppg) and rebounds (9.1 rpg) at the time of his injury back in late November loss against Dayton.

Chambers will have to try to find a way to score inside on a lanky Minnesota team that leads the Big Ten in blocks per game at 5.8. Ralph Sampson III leads the team in blocked shots with 1.9 blocks per game.

Chambers must also prepare for pressure from the Gophers’ backcourt. They also lead the Big Ten in steals per game at 8.7 steals per game. The Nittany Lions will need to continue to rebound the ball well and try to establish some kind of inside presence. Someone other than Tim Frazier will need to step up on the offensive end and help take on some of the scoring load.

On the defensive end, the Nittany Lions will have to check Williams and keep an eye on the sharp-shooting Welch, who is shooting 40 percent on three pointers. They will also have to put a body on Austin Hollins who will look to build on his season high scoring output against Indiana. Minnesota does not do one thing particularly well offensively, but they are well coached and will be feeling good after their big upset victory.

Tune in to ComRadio for complete coverage of the game. The Basketball Pregame Show begins at 3:30 p.m., followed by the live broadcast of the game at 4 p.m.

Tyler Stephenson is a sophomore majoring in Communications. To contact him, email tjs5461@psu.edu.