Jan. 11, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -One of the many things Minnesota coach Tubby Smith has learned through the years is that it usually takes about half a season for junior college transfers to get into a groove.

It appears that his two prized JC recruits this season are right on time.

Reserve Devron Bostick scored 19 points and Paul Carter added 14 to lead 22nd-ranked Minnesota to a 79-59 victory over Penn State on Sunday.

"They all take a while to understand the system," Smith said. "It's like going into a different class. The fundamentals are the same, but the terminology, the system, the offense, the defense, is different."

The Gophers (15-1, 3-1 Big Ten) shot 62.5 percent and hit all nine of their 3-pointers to get The Barn rocking and rolling.

Talor Battle had 19 points and nine assists for Penn State (13-4, 2-2). But the Big Ten's leading scorer didn't get on the board until almost 15 minutes had passed and had to work for everything he got. Teammate Stanley Pringle, who averaged 19.3 points in the first three conference games of the year, was held to seven points on 2-of-8 shooting.

The Nittany Lions have lost eight straight to Minnesota and are 1-15 lifetime at Williams Arena.

"We didn't have the firepower," Penn State forward Jamelle Cornley said. "They were the tougher team."

Bostick, the National Junior College Athletic Associations player of the year last season at Southwestern Illinois Community College, had managed 11 points in Minnesota's first three Big Ten games. But he hit his first seven shots Sunday, including two straight 3-pointers to open up a 21-12 lead midway through the first half.

The mild-mannered shooter let out a primal scream and pounded his chest after the second one, then really poured it on in the second half.

He scored six straight points, the last on a layup with 8:52 to play that gave the Gophers a 68-47 lead, and they cruised to the finish.

"I've just got to relax when I come out on the court and just play my game and stop worrying about messing up," said Bostick, who averaged 18.2 points last season.

The Gophers' lone loss of the season came at home to No. 8 Michigan State on Dec. 31, and with road games coming up against Wisconsin and Northwestern this week, Bostick and Carter's timing couldn't be better.

"Coming from where we came from in junior college, we were the main options," Carter said. "So the ball was going through us. It was one-on-one situations and that's how we're used to playing. In this offense, you're coming off screens, you're curling, you're popping off pick-and-rolls, so that was the only challenge for us."

After overcoming a sluggish first 20 minutes to win at Iowa on Thursday, the Gophers came out firing on Sunday against the Nittany Lions.

Minnesota hit six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the game and also converted a three-point play in that span to take a 21-12 lead.

That trademark Tubby defense was there as well, of course. Battle and Pringle entered the game averaging a combined 34 points.

Pringle played just nine minutes in the first half because of foul trouble and Battle missed his first five shots and was 3-for-10 in the period.

"He was the guy competing for us and still trying," coach Ed DeChellis said. "We didn't have a whole lot to go with him."

His coast-to-coast layup cut Minnesota's lead to 31-28 just over four minutes before halftime, but Al Nolen hit the Gophers' seventh 3-pointer of the half and then drove and dished to Carter for a rim-rattling dunk at the buzzer for a 40-30 lead at the break.

Penn State tried to overcome 37 percent shooting with 17 offensive rebounds, but it wasn't enough and the Nittany Lions regressed after beating No. 14 Purdue at home on Tuesday.

"Major setback," Cornley said. "We went a couple steps forward, then we all of a sudden went a couple steps backwards. We'll just have to regroup."