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Garner’s Effort Not Enough As Michigan State Blows Out Penn State

In the end, what happened is what we should have expected would happen. Michigan State is ranked No. 5 in the country, and Penn State is still struggling to find itself.

That combination was not a winning one for the Nittany Lions, as the Spartans steamrolled the home team 92-65 in a game that really wasn’t even that close. With his high-profile family in attendance, Shep Garner finished with 19 points to lead the team.

How it happened

There weren’t that many plays that stood out in this game, realistically. Michigan State was just methodical, almost robotic at times, in dismantling the Nittany Lions.

The visitors jumped out to a quick seven point lead early when the highlight of the day happened for Penn State. After a missed three-pointer — a common sight in the BJC, as Penn State shot just 3-14 from behind the arc — freshman Josh Reaves grabbed the offensive board and flipped a no-look pass to Julian Moore, who slammed it home to cut the lead to five.

But, in classic Penn State fashion, the good guys gave up a quick 11-0 run to the Spartans in response to the dunk. Bryn Forbes had two straight threes in that stretch, and finished with 20 points in the first half. The Nittany Lions couldn’t get closer than seven for the rest of the half, and trailed 40-27 at the break.

“He just got open,” Garner said. “He’s a good shooter, and [good shooters] don’t need a lot of room. He had a great first half, but we did a pretty good job on him in the second half.”

But while Penn State did a good job holding Forbes scoreless in the second half, they couldn’t stop All-Big Ten guard Denzel Valentine in the final 20 minutes. Valentine, in his first game back from a small surgery to remove cartilage from his left knee, scored ten points in the second half. But more importantly, he had four assists, four boards, and really looked to have the spark, the moxie, that fans of the Green and White are used to seeing.

“Denzel struggled like we all knew he would,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I went at him at halftime, because I didn’t think he was playing with the same pizzazz, you know? I don’t care if he doesn’t care if he plays with the same skill level, but, he sat out for a time… and he seemed a little more casual and tentative to me. He answered the bell, and that’s what’s going to make that kid special.”

Between Valentine’s return, Forbes’ sharp shooting, and 38 points from bench players, Michigan State was set. Penn State, on the other hand, simply wasn’t. Big man Jordan Dickerson got in his usual foul trouble even faster than normal, accumulating two fouls in the first 1:27 of the game and wasn’t much use for the rest of the game. He didn’t play the rest of the first half, and he finished with just two rebounds and zero points in seven minutes of action.

“It really hurt us that Jordan Dickerson only played 7 minutes,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers said. “He’s the mother hen out there, he cleans everything up.”

Player of the game

Four Nittany Lions finished in double figures (Brandon Taylor had 10 points, Devin Foster had 12, and Julian Moore had 13), but Shep Garner’s 19 kept this game at close as it was. Taylor and Moore disappeared in the second half when it mattered, but Garner starred, scoring 11 points in the first six minutes of the period and excelling against the tough Spartan D.

What’s next?

Penn State travels to Purdue to take on the No. 20 Boilermakers on Wednesday.

About the Author

Alex Robinson

Alex Robinson was Onward State's Acting Managing Editor/Resident Old Man. He lived in Harrisburg almost his whole life, but he says he's from California -- where he was born -- because that's more fun. He loves cats and Chinese food, but only separately. He met both Ben Affleck and Kanye West within a half hour, so the three of them are basically best friends. If you want to hear his #scorching #hot #takes, you can follow him at @ARobinsonPSU or email him at [email protected]

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