This was the classic tale of two halfs. The Penn State Nittany Lions started out hot at home and led the fifth-ranked Michigan State Spartans for the majority of the first half. Penn State took a seven-point lead into the break, but was unable to sustain it, ultimately falling to the more-talented Spartans by a score of 79-63.
Penn State had the Bryce Jordan Center crowd thinking that 2013 would end with an upset. The Nittany Lions came out with great energy and were knocking down shots from seemingly everywhere. Forward Brandon Taylor and guard D.J. Newbill both played great in the first half, helping the Nittany Lions build the surprising lead.
After the break, the Spartans showed why they are one of the top teams in the nation. Head coach Tom Izzo must have gotten into his team at the break because Michigan State came out and totally shut down Penn State, holding the Nittany Lions to just 16 points in the second half.
Taylor led the Nittany Lions with 18 points. Newbill added 17 points and two assists. Forward Ross Travis led the team in rebounds, collecting seven boards. Pitt transfer John Johnson, who scored 22 points in his Penn State debut against Mount Saint Mary’s last week, managed just two points against the Spartans.
Michigan State got good production from three of its best players. Branden Dawson led all scorers in the game with 20 points and also added nine rebounds. Keith Appling scored 14 points and Gary Harris added 13. Adreian Payne was held well below his season average of 18 points, scoring just five. However, he did grab 10 rebounds.
This game was exciting for Penn Sate fans at the start, but ultimately, the Spartans were just too much down the stretch.
The Nittany Lions take the court next on January 4th in Illinois against the Fighting Illini.
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