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No. 22 Nittany Lions Pick Up Statement Win Over No. 16 Spartans

Courtesy of GoPSU Athletics
Program firsts include fifth-straight Big Ten win and third-straight Big Ten road win

BOX SCORE: No. 22 Penn State 75, No. 16 Michigan State 70

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The No. 22 Penn State men’s basketball team (17-5, 7-4) defeated the No. 16 Michigan State (16-7, 8-4) 75-70 in a Big Ten battle Tuesday night. The Nittany Lions were clutch from the foul line, going 6-7 the final minute to secure the win. Tuesday’s win marked only the second time in 25 visits to East Lansing Penn State came away victorious.

Senior Lamar Stevens scored 13 of his team-high 24 points in the second half, including going 4-4 from the foul line in the game’s final 16 seconds. Stevens also grabbed seven rebounds and handed out three assists.

“Any time you come in here and play here, you’re going to learn something,” said Penn State men’s basketball coach. “You’re going to learn something about you as a coach. You’re going to learn something about your players. Coach Izzo does such a great job in preparation to put teams on their heels. We are going to continue to get better. I really believe we can get a lot better and that’s scary to me. So, I’m excited to get on this plane and go home and continue to work to get this team to the best it can be by the end of the year.”

Sophomore guard Myreon Jones finished with 20 points, draining six three-pointers, and had five assists. Senior forward Mike Watkins finished the night with 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

A back-and-forth battle saw eight lead changes and the score tied six times as Penn State held off a furious comeback by the Spartans. Michigan State senior guard Cassius Winston hit a 3-pointer a 66-63 lead with 5:29 to play.

Winston’s basket was the Spartans’ last one for a five-minute stretch, going 0-5 from the floor for with two turnovers until the final 50 seconds.

Penn State would outscore Michigan State 12-4 from the 5:29 mark through the end of the game, starting with Nittany Lion junior guard Jamari Wheeler’s first points of the night, coming off a fast break layup to bring Penn State within one, 66-65.

Stevens put Penn State up by one, 67-66, going into the paint for a jumper at the 3:42mark. Fouls and turnovers plagued the Spartans while the Nittany Lions stumbled at the free throw line. Stevens and Harrar each added a free throw for a 69-66 Penn State lead with 50 seconds remaining.

A field goal by Aaron Henry cut Penn State’s lead to one, 69-68, before two free throws by Stevens gave the Nittany Lions a 71-68 advantage. Winston quickly scored and Stevens went back to the line for two more free throws, 73-70, with just 9.1 second remaining. Curtis Jones Jr. added two more free throws to give Penn State its fifth-straight conference win and third consecutive Big Ten road win, both program firsts.

Penn State went up by as many as 10 points, 49-39, early in the second half, but Michigan State used an 12-2 run to tie the game at 51 at the 13:46 mark. The score was tied at 53 and 55 before a Myles Dread’s 3-pointer put the Nittany Lions up 58-55 with just under 10 minutes to play.

Myreon Jones added his 20th point off his final 3-pointer before an 8-0 run put Michigan State back up 63-61.

The Spartans used 4-6 shooting from the field from the start to take 12-4 lead over the Nittany Lions. Penn State responded with a run of their own, outscoring Michigan State 12-3 to take a 16-15 lead.

Myreon Jones 3-point shooting in the first half paced the Nittany Lions in the opening half. Jones went 5-6 from behind the arc for all 15 of his first-half points and the majority of Penn State’s seven first-half 3-pointers. The Nittany Lions forced nine Spartan turnovers in the first half, scoring 16 points toward the 43-37 lead at the end of the half.

Watkins limited second chances with seven rebounds in the game’s first stanza and on his second of the game, collected his 900thcareer rebound. Michigan State was held to three second-chance points in the first half. Watkins collected his 900th career rebound in the win, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds. Watkins now has 906 rebounds in his Nittany Lion career.

Penn State’s seven Big Ten Conference wins after 11 league games marks only the second time the Nittany Lions have achieved seven wins at this point. The 1995-96 squad was 9-2.

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