Penn State men’s basketball (7-10, 0-6 Big Ten) once again couldn’t get anything going on offense, falling to Michigan State (15-2, 6-0 Big Ten) 71-56. Lamar Stevens led all scorers with 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting, while Michigan State’s Nick Ward dominated down low with 16 points and 11 boards.
How It Happened
The first few minutes were played at a frantic pace, with Myles Dread and Jamari Wheeler splashing one three apiece for an early 8-6 lead. But as both teams started to settle in, it was clear that Michigan State controlled the glass. The Spartans raced out to a 13-5 rebounding advantage, largely due to the play of star big man Nick Ward.
A 14-2 run by Michigan State put the Nittany Lions in an early hole while Lamar Stevens was forced to the bench due to foul trouble. In his absence, Penn State really struggled to find any open looks on offense. The team made a mere 26 percent of its shots, going 2-for-11 from behind the arc with 7:39 remaining in the half.
A slam dunk by Michigan State’s Aaron Henry quieted the crowd, as the Spartan lead increased to 18. But as the opening frame came to a close, the Nittany Lions found a little bit of momentum. Reserve Kyle McCloskey took a charge on point guard Cassius Winston, before Myles Dread canned his second three of the afternoon. Despite this, Penn State still trailed 40-24 as no player managed to score in double digits.
The Nittany Lions started off the second half much better, who showed a lot of fight on the defensive end. A steal and slam by Josh Reaves got the crowd out of their seats, before a Mike Watkins floater brought the team within ten. But Michigan State’s Matt McQuaid had other plans, knocking down back-to-back treys to force a Pat Chambers timeout.
With 8:11 remaining, freshman Myles Dread suffered a leg injury, further damaging Penn State’s chances of mounting a comeback. He did return to hit one three, but by then the game was out of reach. The Spartans finished shooting 40 percent from downtown, and out-rebounded the Nittany Lions 41-28. Ultimately, Penn State just couldn’t convert enough of its open looks to hang tight with one of the best teams in the nation.
- Penn State’s bench needs to produce if it want to pick up its first conference win of the season. Non-starters went a combined 0-for-10 from the field, failing to help out on the offensive end. Tyler McCloskey played well in 18 minutes though, even if he didn’t get into scoring column.
- The Nittany Lion defense had stretches where they looked stifling, forcing 17 turnovers on Sunday afternoon. Senior Josh Reaves had five steals of his own as well, showing why he’s one of the best defenders in the Big Ten this year.
- Once again, three point shooting ended up being Penn State’s downfall. 5-for-22 simply won’t cut it against any time in the conference, let alone a top-ten Michigan State team. Coach Chambers needs to find a way to get his scorers in open space in order to improve the team’s efficiency in future games.
The Nittany Lions will face the Iowa Hawkeyes this Wednesday at the Bryce Jordan Center. The game will tip off 7:00 and can be seen on Big Ten Network.