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Dec. 28, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; Dec. 28, 2009 - The Nittany Lion basketball team (8-4) will open its 18th season of Big Ten conference play on Tuesday, Dec. 29 when it takes on Minnesota (9-3) in Minneapolis in a game televised live on ESPN2 at 9:00 p.m. (ET).
The Nittany Lions have won their last three Big Ten season openers, all vs. Northwestern, but will be looking for just their second ever win at Minnesota in 17 tries. Penn State last won at Williams Arena in 2001. Penn State is 4-2 in Big Ten openers under seventh-year head coach Ed DeChellis who won his very first Big Ten game vs. the Golden Gophers at the Bryce Jordan Center in 2004.
The Nittany Lions, who have had eight days off for the Holiday break, are coming off back-to-back hot shooting outings in victories over Gardner-Webb and American in which they shot better than 53 percent in each game. The consecutive 50 percent shooting games marked a first since the 2007-08 season for the Lions who are led by All-Big Ten point-guard Talor Battle (Albany, N.Y.). Battle enters Big Ten play as the number two leading scorer in the conference averaging 18.8 ppg. He will look to get help from sophomore Chris Babb and freshman Bill Edwards who have each posted back-to-back double-digit outings.
Minnesota enters Tuesday's game with an 8-0 mark at home on the year. The Gophers have ten players playing better than 10 minutes per game and are led by Lawrence Westbrook's 12.9 ppg. The Gophers fell to Portland (61-56), Texas A&M (66-65) and at Miami (Fla.) (63-58) during the non-conference season but have blown out their other opponents while averaging 80 ppg and shooting 48.8 percent from the floor.