MSG Doubleheader Starts With 79-72 Loss To Michigan
The World’s Most Famous Arena kicked off the inaugural Big Ten Super Saturday at noon as Penn State and Michigan took to the hardcourt. Shep Garner shone at the New York Knicks’ home, but the Wolverines played a much more complete game en route to a 79-72 win, their second victory over Penn State this season.
How It Happened
Michigan received one 25th-place vote in the latest AP Poll, which means its level of respect on a national scale is miles above Penn State’s. The first five minutes of the game reflected that, as the Wolverines jumped out to a 13-5 lead with the help of a few deep balls. Penn State fought back in the next two minutes though, as Shep Garner sank a three and Isaiah Washington tied the game at 13 from the line.
A majority maize-and-blue crowd woke up after Penn State’s run, inspiring a run for their own team. A highlight towards the end of the half was a series where Brooklyn native Jordan Dickerson missed a relatively open layup, then Michigan showed off its talent on the break. The point guard sprinted into the paint then swung out wide, where the wingman missed an open three, then Aubrey Dawkins just missed a put-back slam that would’ve blown the roof off Madison Square Garden.
The half came to an end with Michigan leading 38-26 after a buzzer-beating three-pointer. Michigan shot 13-for-27 and Penn State was 8-for-25, while Zak Irvin and Payton Banks led their respective teams in scoring. Had it not been on the most famous stage in the western hemisphere, it’d have been a forgettable half of basketball.
The start of the second was a little more of the same. The teams switched ends so Penn State attacked towards the S-Zone, and the student section’s energy helped narrow the score. Five minutes into the half, the Wolverines only led by eight but there was no visible shift in momentum. The Nittany Lions would have long possessions that would either result in hard-earned baskets or nothing. Michigan would then rush down the court, dribble through defenders, then find the open man and score often without too much resistance.
Towards the middle of the half as the Wolverines were trying to pull away, Donovon Jack made what was likely Penn State’s play of the night. Michigan’s Ricky Doyle drove to the rim where Jack swatted it almost clean to the sideline.
With about eight minutes to go and trailing by 15, Garner broke out of a slump with a three-pointer from way downtown then a crafty layup in transition. He scored eight points in a row for Penn State, followed by a three from Zemgulis to make it a five point game. Michigan led by nine points with two minutes to go, and after some traded baskets and free throws, the Nittany Lions started the day 0-1 with a 79-72 loss.
Player of the Game
Shep Garner was the highlight of Penn State’s on-court product, but the off-court atmosphere made the game seem more fun than it was at times. Garner finished the game with 22 points, two behind Taylor for the team lead, but he was the reason his team didn’t get run off the court late in the second half. Meanwhile, the Blue & White Society sent the S-Zone to Madison Square Garden, where it danced, sang, and cheered throughout the game and filled the arena with much-needed “We Are” chants.
Next for Penn State is the second leg of the Big Ten Super Saturday, when the Nittany Lions and Wolverines drop the puck on the MSG ice at 7 p.m. For the basketball team, a matchup with No. 3 Iowa looms on Wednesday, Feb. 3 in Iowa City.