For nearly 30 minutes, Penn State was neck and neck with the 17th ranked Michigan State Spartans. Then, Adreian Payne happened. The junior center was benched for the entire 1st half, and the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half along with teammate Branden Dawson. The two were involved in an altercation Wednesday morning at The Nittany Lion Inn. Payne entered the game at the under-16 timeout in the second half, and went on to dump 20 points on PSU, and grab 6 rebounds. Payne’s entrance coincided with a key 15-4 Michigan State run that opened up a 61-48 lead for the Spartans that proved to be too much for the Lions to overcome.
After a run of disturbingly poor shooting over the last few outings, PSU showed a renewed offensive aggressiveness to open the game, lead by D.J. Newbill. The sophomore guard was able to get to the basket seemingly at will in the first half, either converting layups, or getting to the line. Newbill finished the half with 9 points. Junior Jermaine Marshall added 7, and grabbed 5 rebounds, as the Lions trailed 29-25. PSU’s defense was just as aggressive, holding the Spartans to 40% from the field (MSU ranks 37th nationally at 47%) and forcing 7 turnovers in the opening 20.
The second half opened with a Jermaine Marshall 3, closing the game to 1 point, and another Marshall jumper would put PSU up 37-36, but it was short lived. The Lions would hang around, drawing to within 1 point on two occasions, before Payne and the Spartans went on the 15-4 run. MSU would open the lead up to as many as 14 with 5:00 to play. PSU would rally back late, closing to as few as 5 at 73-68, but a missed Marshall layup followed by a missed Jon Graham put back would kill any hopes of the upset. MSU would make their free throws down the stretch to finish off the 9 point victory.
Marshall lead PSU with a career night with 29 points, 22 of which came in the 2nd half, and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Newbiill was not far behind with 27 points and 6 assists. All told, the Lions were 48% from the field, and the willingness to attack the basket sent them to the line 27 times. Unfortunately, Sparty was able to score nearly at will in their 52 point second half, with 5 different players finishing in double figures, lead by Payne’s 20.
Penn State remains home this weekend against Nebraska, with both teams potentially looking for their first Big 10 win (Nebraska hosts Purdue later Wednesday night). That game tips at 1:00 on BTN.