Michigan State gives itself chance for share of Big Ten title
Michigan State showed incredible resilience on the road against Penn State, weathering the Nittany Lions' 10-for-17 3-point shooting in the first half and a 19-point deficit to win 79-71. Here are the stats you need to know:
- Penn State was 0-for-13 from three in the second half.
- The Nittany Lions lost by eight despite committing just four turnovers.
- Michigan State out-rebounded Penn State 40-33.
- Michigan State's Xavier Tillman led the way for the Spartans with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting and 15 rebounds.
- On senior night, Penn State's leading scorer Lamar Stevens finished with 15 points on 3-of-18 shooting.
- At the same time, Rutgers defeated No. 9 Maryland 78-67, meaning Maryland and Michigan State are tied for first place in the Big Ten with a 13-6 record.
Michigan State roars back
Penn State led by as many as 19 points in the first half and in the first six minutes of the second half, Michigan State managed to take the lead, 51-49, on a Xavier Tillman layup that was assisted by Cassius Winston. Here's how the Spartans rallied back:
- Michigan State started the second half on a 9-0 run, fueled by a quick 3-pointer from Aaron Henry, followed by six points from Rocket Watts.
- During that run, Penn State missed four 3-pointers that were immediately rebounded by Michigan State, ending the Nittany Lions' possession.
- Penn State couldn't rely on its 3-point shooting early in the second half like it did in the first half and leading scorer Lamar Stevens missed his first two shots of the half, falling to 0-for-11 in the game.
- A layup by Cassius Winston gave Michigan State a 55-49 lead, prompting a timeout by Penn State and an emotional Winston could be seen gathering with his teammates.
Nittany Lions take 46-31 lead into halftime
Penn State's leading scorer, senior Lamar Stevens (17.7 ppg), is 0-for-9 in the first half yet Penn State leads Michigan State by 15. Here's why:
- Penn State shot 10-of-17 from three (58.8%) in the first half. Ten 3-pointers is a productive mark for a single game, let alone a single half.
- Myreon Jones (4-for-4) and Myles Dread (3-for-3) haven't missed a 3-pointer. Dread has already eclipsed his per-game scoring average and Jones will surpass his with his next made field goal.
- Meanwhile, Michigan State's 3-point shooting is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The Spartans are 1-for-9.
- The Nittany Lions have committed just one turnover and they haven't missed from the free throw line.
- When Michigan State went on a mini run, Penn State's Pat Chambers called timeout. A Mike Watkins layup just before the halftime buzzer sounded pushed the Nittany Lions' lead back to 15.
Penn State comes out firing to take an early lead
A high-arcing 3-pointer from Penn State's Myreon Jones put the Nittany Lions ahead 25-13, forcing Michigan State coach Tom Izzo to call a timeout.
- Who doesn't love a good on-pace stat? With 10:23 left in the first half, Penn State is on pace to break 100 points.
- Seven Nittany Lions have scored in the first nine-plus minutes, led by Jones and teammate Mike Watkins with six points apiece.
- Penn State is 5-of-8 from three with Jones making both of his first two attempts.
- The Nittany Lions have taken good care of the ball, not committing a single turnover while the Spartans have committed three.
- Xavier Tillman has scored a quick nine points for Michigan State but the Spartans have been unable to keep pace.
Entering Tuesday, Maryland (13-5 Big Ten) held sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with three teams tied for second at 12-6 and two teams tied for fifth at 11-7.
No. 16 Michigan State is among the trio tied for second and No. 20 Penn State is one of the teams tied for fifth, and each is desperately looking to add conference wins in hopes that first-place Maryland loses its two remaining games, and for Big Ten tournament seeding purposes, too.
Penn State will host Michigan State on Tuesday, March 3 at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on ESPN and WatchESPN.
The last time the Spartans and Nittany Lions met, Penn State was able to leave East Lansing with a 75-70 victory amid Michigan State's three-game losing streak.
Penn State sophomore guard Myreon Jones was named the game's MVP on kenpom.com after scoring 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 6-of-8 on threes. He also dished out five assists. Forward Lamar Stevens scored a team-high 24 points, while big man Mike Watkins added 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench.