Nittany Lions Defeat Spartans For Title Clash With Buckeyes
About two weeks ago, Penn State fans thought that they saw their NCAA Tournament hopes go down the drain as they either sat speechless in the Bryce Jordan Center or were bowing down to Jon Diebler’s greatness as Ohio State waxed the floor with the Nittany Lions on Senior Night. On Sunday, they might be able to watch Penn State solidify their spot in the Dance against that same Buckeye team.
Penn State secured a place in the finals of the Big Ten Tournament for the first time in team history Saturday as they came back from an early deficit to defeat Michigan State 61-48 in front of a sold out crowd at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Michigan State started the game on a 14-4 run, but sophomore point guard Tim Frazier took over in the first half, scoring 11 points in the period. His stellar play allowed the Lions to tie the game at 26 heading into the half.
Frazier, who played his best game so far in the Blue and White, had his first 20-point game (22 points overall) to go along with eight rebounds and six assists. He looked like a young Talor Battle and may have started to grab the torch from the graduating all-time leading scorer in school history in this victory.
The turning point of the game, however, came from none other than #12 as Battle dropped the hammer as he has done so many times in his Penn State career.
His shooting struggles for the previous three halves of play, which included his 3-18 performance against Wisconsin on Friday night, ceased as he hit threes on four straight possessions to help Penn State open up a nine-point lead (42-33 with 14:12 left) which the Lions never looked back from. Battle ended the game with 25 points on 7-16 shooting.
Saturday’s win very likely punched Penn State’s first ticket to the NCAA Tournament since 2001, provided they have a strong performance against Ohio State in Sunday’s championship game. The victory bumped their RPI up to 38 and they have played the 5th-toughest schedule among Division I teams this year. ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi had Penn State in after Friday’s win over the Badgers and has moved them up to team #66 after Saturday’s victory.
Sunday’s title tilt between #1 and top-seeded Ohio State and the sixth-seeded Nittany Lions (19-13) will be televised on CBS starting at 3:30 p.m. with Selection Sunday starting after the game at 6:00 p.m.
Cleaning the Glass:
- Penn State won for the first time in three trips to the Big Ten semis after losing in 2000 and 2001.
- The Nittany Lions beat Michigan State at their own game by outrebounding the Spartans, 36-28.
- Delvon Roe was called for an intentional foul in the second half after clotheslining Tim Frazier on a drive to the basket.