Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, March 13, 2014

In a game it needed to win to keep its NCAA tourney hopes alive, No. 7 Minnesota was able to hold off Penn State, 63-56, Thursday night in Indianapolis. The Gophers, led by Austin Hollins' 18 points, meet No. 2 Wisconsin at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday on BTN/BTN2Go. Get Tom Dienhart's instant reaction in this post.


Key moment: Minnesota was in control throughout the game, never trailing and leading by as many as 14 points. But the Golden Gophers never could put the Nittany Lions away. In fact, Penn State cut the lead to 58-54 in the final few minutes-and even had possession of the ball with a chance to trim the edge even more. But the Nittany Lions couldn?t convert. The win pushes Minnesota a step closer to an NCAA bid, as the Gophers likely remain squarely on the bubble. Penn State?s season is over and can only dream about next season.

Key player: Austin Hollins was on fire for Minnesota, tallying a game-high 18 points by hitting 6-of-12 shots-4-of-7 from three-point range. He helped Minnesota tally 11 points on the fast break, which was a big difference in the game as Penn State had the edge in the paint (26-24), off turnovers (13-7) and on second chances (13-4).

Key shot: With Minnesota clinging to a 59-56 lead, Andre Hollins hit a big three-pointer with 15 seconds left to make it 62-56. That shot essentially iced the game for the Golden Gophers, as Penn State was seemingly closing in and putting pressure on Minnesota.

Key number: 41.2, that was Minnesota?s shooting percentage from three-point range as it hit 7-of-17 shots from long range. Austin Hollins led the way with four triples. PSU hit just 23.8 percent from long range.

Up next: A game with Wisconsin looms. The teams split the season series with each squad winning on their home court. No doubt, a victory over the Badgers likely would clinch an NCAA berth for Minnesota for a second season in a row.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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