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Murphy carries Gophers past Penn State

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) After a sluggish start, Jordan Murphy cleared his head and put his team on his back, and Minnesota narrowly avoided a second straight bad loss.

Murphy scored 19 points and tied a career high with 21 rebounds as the Gophers rallied past Penn State 65-64 on Saturday night.

Amir Coffey and Eric Curry each scored 11 points and Dupree McBrayer's free throw with 2.7 seconds left provided the winning margin for the Gophers (14-4, 4-3 Big Ten), who escaped a repeat of Wednesday night when they lost by 27 at previously winless Illinois.

Lamar Stevens scored 27 points, while Mike Watkins added 10 points and nine boards for the Nittany Lions (7-12, 0-8), who lost for the second straight game after leading at halftime.

Murphy was held to four points and four rebounds in the first half as Penn State took a 38-30 lead at the break. A conversation with coach Richard Pitino helped him regain focus and led to a huge second half for the senior forward.

''Coach just told me to keep my mind on rebounding because I was too much in my head in the first half,'' Murphy said. ''He just told me to keep my mind on rebounding, just getting stops, then everything else would follow, so that's what I did.''

Pitino praised his team for not letting one bad loss snowball into a losing streak that could derail a promising season.

''We had to look ourselves in the mirror. When you lose like that, the way that you lose and you don't compete, that's a problem,'' Pitino said of the Illinois game. ''Even today, we weren't an offensive masterpiece by any means, but we fought and we got tougher as the game went on.''

Minnesota trailed by 11 early in the second half, but began its comeback with an 18-5 run that included four straight missed free throws by Penn State. When Coffey hit three straight free throws, the Gophers had their largest lead of the game at 61-54 with 5:43 to play.

But Stevens scored on a putback that started a 7-0 run for the Nittany Lions to tie the score and set up a see-saw finish that came down to the last shot.

Stevens had a chance to put Penn State on top but he missed a pair of free throws with 2:40 to play. Minnesota then regained the lead when Murphy went 1-for-2 from the line on the other end.

Murphy pushed the Gophers' lead to 64-61 when he dunked home his own missed shot with a minute to play. But Stevens tied the game with 11.1 seconds left when he converted a three-point play after drawing a foul on Murphy and scoring down low.

On the Gophers' final possession, McBrayer drove to the hoop and drew a foul with 2.7 seconds to play. He hit the second of two shots to give Minnesota the lead, and Stevens missed an 18-foot shot at the buzzer to give the Gophers the victory and Penn State another frustrating loss.

''I thought we deserved to win this game,'' Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. ''We played well enough to win this game on the road. I think free throws, again, were our Achilles heel, really hurt us. So we've got to keep working on free throws. They made theirs.''

The Gophers hit 17 of 21 free throws in the second half while the Nittany Lions went 9 for 16.

Stevens scored 17 points in the first half and the Nittany Lions shot 56 percent from the floor - including 5 for 8 on 3-pointers - en route to a 38-30 lead at the break.

But Minnesota held Penn State to 28 percent from the field in the second half as the Gophers recovered from their Illinois hangover just in time.

''We're gonna have to win ugly,'' Murphy said of the message Pitino gave the team at halftime. ''That's something that I think we all embraced going into the second half, and I think that we all made it our duty just to get stops.''

BIG PICTURE

Penn State: The Nittany Lions still haven't won in the Big Ten but they've been excruciatingly close. On Wednesday against Iowa they led by five at halftime and were tied with two minutes to play but couldn't hold on.

''I think we're the best 0-8 team in the country, I really do,'' Chambers said. ''We're in every, every game.''

Minnesota: The Gophers needed this one with a trip to Ann Arbor coming up and No. 2 Michigan coming off a loss at Wisconsin. Plus a second straight ugly loss against a non-contender could have been a disaster.

''We just said we're gonna learn from it and grow from it,'' Curry said of the Illinois loss. ''I guess we showed that tonight.''

UP NEXT

Penn State: Hosts Rutgers on Saturday.

Minnesota: At Michigan on Tuesday.

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Key Players
L. Stevens
J. Murphy
29.7 Min. Per Game 29.7
14.4 Pts. Per Game 14.4
2.6 Ast. Per Game 2.6
11.6 Reb. Per Game 11.6
41.9 Field Goal % 48.8
20.0 Three Point % 21.4
76.3 Free Throw % 68.1
  Offensive rebound by Penn State 0.0
  Lamar Stevens missed jump shot 0.0
+ 1 Dupree McBrayer made 2nd of 2 free throws 2.0
  Dupree McBrayer missed 1st of 2 free throws 2.0
  Shooting foul on Myles Dread 2.0
+ 1 Lamar Stevens made free throw 11.0
  Shooting foul on Jordan Murphy 10.0
+ 2 Lamar Stevens made layup 10.0
  Defensive rebound by Myles Dread 18.0
  Amir Coffey missed 3-pt. jump shot 20.0
  Bad pass turnover on Lamar Stevens 48.0
Team Stats
Points 64 65
Field Goals 22-52 (42.3%) 20-50 (40.0%)
3-Pointers 8-17 (47.1%) 3-14 (21.4%)
Free Throws 12-20 (60.0%) 22-30 (73.3%)
Total Rebounds 32 34
Offensive 7 8
Defensive 22 22
Team 3 4
Assists 13 16
Steals 8 7
Blocks 4 4
Turnovers 12 11
Fouls 22 20
Technicals 0 0
27 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST
19 PTS, 21 REB, 6 AST
12T
away team logo Penn State 7-12 382664
home team logo Minnesota 14-4 303565
Team Stats
away team logo Penn State 7-12 68.2 PPG 39.4 RPG 11.9 APG
home team logo Minnesota 14-4 72.6 PPG 41.6 RPG 15.3 APG
Key Players
11
L. Stevens F 19.2 PPG 8.0 RPG 2.2 APG 41.5 FG%
3
J. Murphy F 15.0 PPG 11.9 RPG 2.7 APG 49.8 FG%
Top Scorers
L. Stevens F 27 PTS 4 REB 1 AST
J. Murphy F 19 PTS 21 REB 6 AST
42.3 FG% 40.0
47.1 3PT FG% 21.4
60.0 FT% 73.3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
L. Stevens 27 4 1 9/17 3/3 6/8 3 36 1 2 4 3 1
M. Watkins 10 9 0 3/8 0/0 4/8 3 25 2 1 1 1 8
J. Reaves 7 5 4 3/8 1/4 0/0 2 39 3 1 3 0 5
M. Dread 6 4 3 2/6 2/5 0/0 4 34 0 0 0 0 4
J. Wheeler 0 1 2 0/0 0/0 0/2 3 19 1 0 1 1 0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
L. Stevens 27 4 1 9/17 3/3 6/8 3 36 1 2 4 3 1
M. Watkins 10 9 0 3/8 0/0 4/8 3 25 2 1 1 1 8
J. Reaves 7 5 4 3/8 1/4 0/0 2 39 3 1 3 0 5
M. Dread 6 4 3 2/6 2/5 0/0 4 34 0 0 0 0 4
J. Wheeler 0 1 2 0/0 0/0 0/2 3 19 1 0 1 1 0
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
M. Jones 5 1 1 2/5 1/3 0/0 1 10 0 0 1 0 1
T. Buttrick 4 1 0 1/1 0/0 2/2 0 6 1 0 0 1 0
K. McCloskey 3 1 1 1/2 1/1 0/0 0 7 0 0 0 1 0
J. Harrar 2 3 0 1/3 0/0 0/0 2 13 0 0 0 0 3
R. Bolton 0 0 1 0/2 0/1 0/0 4 11 0 0 2 0 0
S. Pierce - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Zemgulis - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Hazle - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Nussbaum - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I. Brockington - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Kasatkin - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 64 29 13 22/52 8/17 12/20 22 200 8 4 12 7 22
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Murphy 19 21 6 7/14 0/1 5/8 4 35 3 3 2 6 15
A. Coffey 11 2 1 3/11 1/4 4/5 2 38 0 0 4 1 1
D. Oturu 10 1 1 4/5 0/0 2/2 3 20 0 1 1 0 1
D. McBrayer 9 2 4 1/5 1/3 6/9 4 35 1 0 2 0 2
G. Kalscheur 5 0 1 2/6 1/5 0/0 4 25 1 0 1 0 0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Murphy 19 21 6 7/14 0/1 5/8 4 35 3 3 2 6 15
A. Coffey 11 2 1 3/11 1/4 4/5 2 38 0 0 4 1 1
D. Oturu 10 1 1 4/5 0/0 2/2 3 20 0 1 1 0 1
D. McBrayer 9 2 4 1/5 1/3 6/9 4 35 1 0 2 0 2
G. Kalscheur 5 0 1 2/6 1/5 0/0 4 25 1 0 1 0 0
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
E. Curry 11 4 1 3/5 0/0 5/6 1 25 1 0 0 1 3
I. Washington 0 0 2 0/4 0/1 0/0 2 22 1 0 1 0 0
M. Stockman - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Stull - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Johnson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Hurt - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Rudrud - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Willis - - - - - - - - - - - - -
H. Conroy - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Carr - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Omersa - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 65 30 16 20/50 3/14 22/30 20 200 7 4 11 8 22