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No. 22 Penn State Hoops Holds Off No. 16 Michigan State 75-70 On The Road, Extends Win Streak To Five

No. 22 Penn State men’s basketball (17-5, 7-4) won its fifth straight game, knocking down clutch free throws in the closing minutes to take down No. 16 Michigan State (16-7, 8-4) in East Lansing.

Lamar Stevens scored 24 points for the Nittany Lions and drilled some clutch free throws down the stretch, while Myreon Jones recorded 20 points thanks to six made three-pointers and added five assists. The lead changed eight times, and the game’s back-and-forth intensity felt a lot like a postseason matchup in March.

How It Happened

Penn State played one of its best halves of basketball all season in the first half of play. Michigan State established dominance in the paint during the opening five minutes, recording the first six rebounds of the game while building a 12-7 lead. The Nittany Lions settled down after the media timeout, and Myreon Jones nailed his free three shots of the game — all from beyond the arc — as Penn State went ahead 16-15 with 11:45 left in the half.

Three-pointers continued to be Penn State’s main source of scoring over the next few possessions. Myles Dread drilled a deep three-pointer to tie the score at 19- after a pair of buckets by the Spartans, and a Lamar Stevens triple gave Penn State a 22-21 lead with less than eight minutes remaining in the half.

The Nittany Lions picked up where they left off after the commercial break, scoring nine more unanswered points capped off by an emphatic alley-oop jam by Mike Watkins off of a Jamari Wheeler feed and another Jones three-pointer, prompting Tom Izzo to call a timeout as Penn State led 31-21 with 5:13 left in the half.

The Spartans quickly rebounded out of the timeout, scoring seven straight points over the next 76 seconds to pull the deficit back to 31-28, forcing Pat Chambers called a timeout. Jones hit hits fifth (!!!) three-pointer off the half out of the timeout, and moments later Curtis Jones Jr. made three free throws after he was fouled from downtown. Watkins added a hook shot with 1:33 remaining in the half, and Penn State led 41-30 after a 10-2 run.

The Nittany Lions picked up a tough technical foul call for delay of game in the last second of the half after the ball rolled away from the basket, costing them two made free throws to Cassius Winston, but they still held a 43-37 at halftime. Penn State ended the half with eight offensive rebounds, seven made three-pointers on 14 attempts, and a plus-six turnover margin.

Penn State held on to its lead for the first few minutes of the second half, but the Spartans reeled off an 8-0 run in less than two minutes to tie the score at 51-all, forcing another timeout by Chambers with 13:45 left to play.

Watkins ended the dry spell out of the timeout with a turnaround hook shot, but the Michigan State answered again on the ensuing possession. The Spartans took their first lead since the 7:44 mark in the first half after a layup by Rocket Watts before Myreon Jones re-knotted the score at 55-all with 10:55 left in the second half. A deceptive pump-fake by Dread left him wide open in the corner for a big three-pointer that pushed Penn State ahead 58-55 a minute later, and Jones added his sixth triple of the night to give the visitors a 61-55 lead with 8:30 left to play.

A Kyle Ahrens three-ball pushed Michigan State ahead by two briefly before Stevens came right back and tied the game again at 63-all with six minutes remaining. Winston knocked down an acrobatic three-pointer for Michigan State to give the Spartans a 66-63 lead, but Wheeler finished at the rim through contact to pull the Nittany Lions back to within one point. The score remained 66-65 in favor of Michigan State at the final media timeout with 3:59 left on the clock.

Stevens rattled in a turnaround shot from the low post to give Penn State a 67-66 lead out of the break. Both teams started to lock each other down on defense, as neither team scored until Stevens split a one-and-one opportunity with 1:33 left to play. John Harrar went one-for-two from the line after being fouled with 50.8 seconds remaining, pushing Penn State’s lead to 69-66. Aaron Henry sank a mid-range jumper with 27 seconds left to go, and Chambers called a timeout with 17.2 tics left after the Nittany Lions nearly lost the ball. Stevens was fouled on the inbounds pass, and made both free throws to extend the lead to 71-68 with 16 seconds remaining.

Winston drove the length of the floor and scored while beyond fouled by Jones Jr., but the 86 percent free throw shooter missed the potential game-tying free throw with 11 seconds left. Stevens went back to the line with 9.1 tics remaining and made both to push the Nittany Lions back up 73-70. Winston missed a three-pointer, and Jones Jr. was fouled after the rebound with 0.6 seconds left, making both freebies to ice the game for Penn State.

Takeaways

  • Penn State came out locked and loaded from three-point land tonight. The Nittany Lions went 7-for-14 from beyond the arc in the first half, and finished the game with a 9-for-21 mark. Stevens had much more room to operate with Jones and Dread stretching the floor, leading to a strong offensive team showing for Penn State.
  • Michigan State dominated the rebounding battle early and ended with a 30-20 points in the paint advantage, but the Nittany Lions grabbed several clutch defensive rebounds in the closing minutes of the game to prevent second chance opportunities for the Spartans. Penn State had 15 second chance points, while holding the Spartans to just five.
  • Myreon Jones and Lamar Stevens once again proved why they makeup one of the best tandems in the Big Ten tonight. Jones went an unreal 6-8 from beyond the arc in the game en route to 20 points, while Stevens added 24 points. Stevens played aggressive despite not getting to the free throw line a single time during the first 38 minutes of the game, but went 5-for-6 from the free throw line in clutch time to seal the victory for Penn State. When both of these guys are scoring at a high level simultaneously, the Nittany Lions can compete with just about any team in the country.
  • This is without a doubt the signature win of the Pat Chambers era at Penn State. The Nittany Lions had more on the line than they’ve had in any regular season game in recent memory: a ranked matchup, facing a Tom Izzo-led Michigan State team in East Lansing, coming off a four-game winning streak.

What’s Next?

Penn State is back at home against Minnesota, as the Nittany Lions try to avenge a 75-69 loss to the Gophers back in January and extend their winning streak to six games. The game will tip off at 4 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center, and you can watch the game on BTN.

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About the Author

Mitch Stewart

Mitch is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism from Roanoke, Virginia. In addition to his role with Onward State, Mitch talks about all the #sprots on Penn State's CommRadio. To contact Mitch, feel free to send him an e-mail at [email protected], and if you really don't value your social media accounts, follow him as he yells on Twitter about Penn State basketball @mitchystew.

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