The last six times Michigan and Penn State’s men’s basketball teams have met at the Bryce Jordan Center, the games have been decided by six points or less. Tuesday’s night’s affair was no different.
Powered by 26 points and 12 rebounds from Lamar Stevens and a 40 percent three-point shooting mark as a team, the unranked Nittany Lions toppled No. 6 Michigan, 75-69 in State College, Pennsylvania.
It was the second upset of the night in the Big Ten. Earlier in the evening, No. 24 Maryland knocked off No. 12 Purdue 70-56 in College Park, Maryland. Carsen Edwards’ 24 points weren’t enough as five Terps scored in double digits.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, No. 11 Michigan State took care of business against No. 20 Wisconsin, beating the Badgers 67-59.
Maryland’s defense comes alive late
Purdue looked like it would win its ninth game in a row, as it led Maryland by eight points at halftime. But Mark Turgeon’s Terps buckled down on defense in the second half and held Purdue to one-of-16 on three-point shooting after halftime. The Terps outscored the Boilermakers 40-18 in the second half, led by Jalen Smith’s 14 points.
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While Purdue had just five assists and Edwards was its only player to score in double-digits, the Terps shared the love, racking up 17 assists. The Terps also ruled the paint defensively, blocking eight shots and grabbing 36 boards. Bruno Fernando had a double-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.
Penn State rules the paint
In Penn State vs. Michigan, the Nittany Lions shot well from outside the arc, but they also got the best of the Wolverines in the painted area. Penn State out-rebounded Michigan 36-26, outscored them in the paint 34-30, and tallied three blocks. A pair of technical fouls did not help Michigan’s chances at winning this game.
In the win, Stevens also notched his 600th career rebound.
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Penn State also held the advantage on second chance points (11-5) and fast break points (13-4). It’s the first time since 2013 that Penn State has bested Michigan.
Despite their record (9-15; 2-11 Big Ten) it’s the second time this season the Nittany Lions have beaten a ranked opponent. On Nov. 27, they topped then-ranked No. 13 Virginia Tech. With seven games remaining, the Nittany Lions have a chance to build momentum and get on the right track heading into the Big Ten tournament.
Big Ten going forward
With the Wolverines’ loss and the Spartans’ win, Michigan and Michigan State are now knotted up for the top spot in the Big Ten standings, each with 11-3 records in conference play.
Maryland and Purdue aren’t far behind as both have 10 wins. Wisconsin is next up with nine victories.
While the season is winding down, this group of teams still has a real chance to grab the Big Ten crown. Michigan and Michigan State still have to play each other twice, Michigan also has to play Maryland twice, and Purdue has zero ranked opponents remaining on its conference slate.
A lot of dust still has to settle and the regular season title race could come down to the wire.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.