Gophers guards come alive in 76-55 rout

INDIANAPOLIS -- Point guard Devoe Joseph carried Minnesota through 20 minutes. After halftime, Minnesota's other guards got involved in a big way.

And with the Gophers' three-headed backcourt clicking, Penn State had no chance to rally. Joseph, Lawrence Westbrook and Blake Hoffarber combined for 31 points as No. 6 seed Minnesota stomped No. 11 seed Penn State 76-55. Minnesota led the entire game but really opened things up early in the second half with a 20-10 run.

The Gophers' NCAA tournament hopes remain alive as they advance to Friday's quarterfinals, where they'll face No. 3 seed Michigan State (Big Ten Network, approximately 9 p.m. ET).

This qualifies as an impressive performance for Minnesota, especially given the way Penn State had been playing the last few weeks. The Nittany Lions split their final six Big Ten contests and gave league co-champs Purdue and Michigan State all they could handle.

After a sloppy end to the first half, Minnesota made almost no mistakes in the final 20 minutes. Hoffarber and Westbrook got it going from long range, and Ralph Sampson III, Damian Johnson and Colton Iverson beat up Penn State in the post. I'm really impressed with the leadership Joseph has showed at point guard.

Penn State had a season of near misses, but tonight's blowout loss has to be extremely tough for Ed DeChellis and his team. Star guard Talor Battle (10 points, 3-for-10 shooting) was a nonfactor for most of the game, and while he got some help from Andrew Jones, Chris Babb and David Jackson, it came too late.

The 2009 NIT champs certainly backslid this season, and it'll be interesting to see what happens with DeChellis in the coming days.