Pharrel Payne’s career-nigh not enough in 76-69 loss to Penn State

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Full Game Recap:

  • First Half: Gophers freshman Joshua Ola-Joseph came out with something two prove. With eight early points, he made two threes for the first time in his college career and Minnesota was two points behind Penn State heading into the first media timeout. With one of the best fan turnouts of the season, the Gophers fed off the energy and took a 21-20 lead into the under-12 media timeout. Dawson Garcia began to settle in with 14 points in his first game back from injury, but after a questionable charge call, Penn State answered with an 8-0 run extending its lead to 37-29 with 4:21 to go in the half. Minnesota had no answer for All-Big Ten guard Jalen Pickett on half, he led Penn State to a 45-35 lead with a game-high 18 points.

  • Second Half: The Gophers came out of the locker room with something to prove. They opened the second half on a 7-0 run, holding Penn State to 0-7 shooting from the field, and trailed by only less than four minutes into the half. Pharrel Payne put together one of his best stretches of basketball this season with a few massive possessions and even gave the Gophers the lead of 52-50 less than 10 minutes into the half. Garcia went down with another minor lower leg injury and Penn State took advantage going on a 13-2 run and led 61-52 with ~8 minutes to go. Pharrel Payne proceeded to officially take over the game with a career-high 18 points and Minnesota trailed 69-64 heading into the final media timeout. Jalen Pickett was ultimately the difference, he had 32 points and the Gophers’ starting backcourt combined 8, leading to another loss 76-69.

Instant Reaction:

This was a good game for the Gophers. At this point of the season, I don’t think an 11th Big Ten loss should have any different impact on anyone’s opinion of the season compared to the 10th one. Tonight was arguably the best atmosphere at the Barn all season, the fans seemed interested and the Gophers played hard basketball for 40 minutes. Not to sound like a broken record, but this team just doesn’t have the personnel to compete in the Big Ten right now. Putting (6-foot-11) Dawson Garcia on (6-foot-4) Jalen Pickett shows how Coach Johnson trusts his guard’s perimeter defense skills. Minnesota’s frontcourt thoroughly dominated Penn State, but the Nittany Lions’ backcourt of Pickett and Lundy was ultimately the difference.

Pharrel Payne has officially arrived. His 18 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists made for his best collegiate performance. This showed another reason for promise for Gophers fans. He has the potential to be an all-league player and he showed it tonight. Ultimately this loss will not mean much in the long run, but Payne showed that he can be a future star in this league.

What is Next?:

Minnesota will now enter a gauntlet with five games in the next 10 days. It is great for this team to get Carrington and Garcia healthy because they are gonna need all hands on deck for the last month of the season. We might not see many more wins on the scoreboard, but hopefully, we see more performances like the one we saw today out of Pharrel Payne.

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