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Penn State men close, lose again to Minnesota

By Jim Carlson, The Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE -- Penn State's Tim Frazier fouled out and Minnesota cashed in for a 68-65 victory Wednesday night in the Gophers' first Big Ten game on the road.

DeAndre Mathieu scored 16 points, 14 in the second half, and Andre Hollins added 14 as the Gophers (13-3, 2-1) sank clutch free throws down the stretch four by Malik Smith in the final 30 seconds and hung on after taking its first lead of the second half with 1:43 remaining.

Mathieu took advantage of Frazier's absence in the final minute by forcing back-to-back Penn State turnovers, including a strip of John Johnson and an ensuing basket, that gave the Gophers a 63-60 lead and forced Penn State to foul.

Elliott Eliason, who scored 11 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for Minnesota, also sank a free throw to give the Gophers a 64-61 lead with 33 seconds to play before Smith finished off Penn State (9-7, 0-3).

The Nittany Lions' Allen Roberts rimmed out a potential game-tying 3-point shot with 1 second left.

There was confusion on Penn State's bench as to how many fouls Frazier actually had. He injured his right leg with 2:08 to play while battling for a rebound under the Gophers' basket and picked up his fourth foul.

It didn't register immediately on the scoreboard and another foul well away from the basket with 58 seconds left sent him to the bench.

"That's all on me," Frazier said. "It's nobody else's fault. Even if it was my fourth or fifth foul, I just have to play smarter. It was not a smart foul by me. It's all on me."

Coach Patrick Chambers shared that blame.

"We have to do a better job" Chambers said. "It's on me. We have to go to the scorebook and say, 'Who was that foul on?' It's that simple.

"I looked up at the scoreboard, but you can't trust the scoreboard; they didn't put it up right away. It's not a smart foul anyway. He's 50 feet from the basket. He's has to be smarter and (D.J.) Newbill has to be smarter. It's upsetting."

Minnesota, which has won 30 out of 40 games in its series with Penn State, played well early but lost its lead with just over five minutes to go in the opening half.

Penn State has floundered in the second half in Big Ten losses to Michigan State and Illinois but led for most of the half until Frazier exited. That was without any points from Newbill, who with Frazier form the NCAA's second-leading guard tandem in scoring.

"We won on the road versus a team we really respect, a very good offensive basketball team," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. "Not a whole lot was going right for us and we just found a way towards the end. Austin Hollins got a big steal and DeAndre Mathieu got a big steal and Malik Smith hit big-time free throws."

Neither team was particularly hot from the foul line or from the field. Minnesota shot 41 percent and was 22 for 34 from the foul line while Penn State hit for just 38 percent and missed 11 of 29 free throws.

"We weren't making plays, we were turning the ball over and doing a lot of silly things, but we found a way to win and there's something to be said for that in this league," Pitino said. "You have to enjoy every single league win, especially on the road. We're 2-1 in the league and that's all that counts."

Penn State dropped to 0-3 in conference play, prompting frustration from Chambers.

"We're doing everything we possibly can to learn how to finish games," Chambers said. "It's in their hands now."

Copyright The Associated Press

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times