Let me start by saying, Minnesota’s freshman guard Joe Coleman has never scored anywhere close to 20 points in a game – he’s a freshman…playing basketball in Minnesota…it’s no big deal.
What is a big deal is that Coleman’s stellar 4.5 points per game average got a huge boost when he played against the Big Ten’s worst team. The Nittany Lions allowed Coleman to drop 23 points on them while he put up career numbers in field goals made (5) and free throws attempted and made (13-14).
If a freshman could do that then it’s no surprise that Penn State lost the game 80-66, their third straight.
The game looked like it was going to be the Frazier and Woodyard Show at the beginning. Those two combined to score 28 of Penn State’s 31 first-half points. But just as the BJC fans were getting pumped for Tim Frazier and Cam Woodyard, Coleman went off.
The freshman scored 12 of Minnesota’s last 20 points before halftime. He put the Gophers back on top 29-28 with three minutes to go in the half, and then gave the Gophers a five-point lead with his fifth and sixth free throws of the half before Penn State closed the gap to 33-31 to close the half.
The Frazier and Woodyard Show must’ve been cancelled during the break because it was nowhere to be found in the second half. Those two only managed to team up for 14 points in the second. Woodyard did finish with 22 points and Frazier had 20, five assists and four steals, but it still wasn’t good enough.
Even though the Nittany Lions scored on their opening possession to tie the game, Penn State never cam close to leading at any point in the second half. They were within three with more than 12 minutes to go but then Coleman hit a layup that started an 11-0 Minnesota run that had the Gophers up 55-41 before the Lions scored again.
It was all down hill from there as PSU lost by at least 14 for the third time in four games and fell below .500 for the first time under Patrick Chambers.
It was more terrible shooting that cost Penn State in this one; they hit just 30% of their shots…that’s not going to win many games, and with the Big Ten looking pretty competitive this year, that’s bad news for this young team.
Things don’t get any easier for the Lions. They have Illinois up next, and even though the Illini aren’t ranked, they share a conference-lead with a 15-3, 4-1 record. If you’re not by now, get used to the losing; it’s not about to end anytime soon…bummer.