Austin Hollins scored 18 points, Deandre Mathieu added 13 and Andre Hollins hit a late 3-pointer Thursday to give Minnesota a much-needed 63-56 win against Penn State in the Big Ten tournament.
The seventh-seeded Golden Gophers (20-12) advanced to tonight's quarterfinal against No. 12 Wisconsin with their third win in four games.
No. 10 seed Penn State (15-17) had a miserable night shooting, making only 32.2 percent from the field. D.J. Newbill had 16 points and senior Tim Frazier added 11. Penn State heads home from Indianapolis after losing for the third time in four games.
Minnesota took control quickly with a 9-0 lead and never trailed.
Penn State got within three just before halftime and within 58-54 with 2:35 remaining, but Andre Hollins made a free throw and hit the 3 in the final minute to close it out.
The big question now is whether this win will convince the selection committee Minnesota belongs in the NCAA tournament?
Most outsiders thought Minnesota needed at least one win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to give them a shot at one of the 36 precious at-large bids and beating the Badgers for the second time this season would certainly help. As it stands now, the Gophers have three wins this season against the Nittany Lions but are just 5-10 against the rest of the league. It does have two wins against Top 25 teams, but both came at home.
For the Nittany Lions, it was another lesson in frustration.
"This has been the year of close. I'm really tired of getting close," coach Patrick Chambers said. "We really have to get over the hump and start winning these games."
Because Penn State is ineligible for the National Invitation Tournament with a losing record, Chambers said he was open to playing in one of the smaller tournaments.
"I'll talk to the team and if they want to keep playing, I would love to keep coaching," he said. "And they've still got to ask us."
■ Ohio State 63, Purdue 61: LaQuinton Ross scored 19 points and Aaron Craft finished with 16, helping fifth-seeded and No. 24-ranked Ohio State (24-8) hang on to beat Purdue (15-17). The win sent the defending tournament champs into the quarterfinals today against fourth-seeded Nebraska.
■ Illinois 64, Indiana 54: Tracy Abrams had 25 points to lead ninth-seeded Illinois past No. 8 seed Indiana. The Illini (19-13) used runs of 9-0 in the first half and 11-0 in the second half to improve to 6-2 all-time against Indiana (17-15) in the Big Ten tournament. Illinois advances to face Big Ten regular-season champion No. 8 Michigan.
■ Northwestern 67, Iowa 62: Tre Demps had 20 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead 11th-seeded Northwestern (14-18) past No. 6 seed Iowa (20-12). The Wildcats advanced to face No. 22 Michigan State.