'We got what we deserved': No. 19 Spartans upset by Nittany Lions, 62-58
State College, Pa. — Michigan State’s players were not available to speak after their game on Tuesday night.
Some might wonder whether the players were available on the court as the Spartans threw away a 14-point, second-half lead at the Bryce Jordan Center, allowing Penn State to rally for a 62-58 victory.
“I was disappointed in a few players that I’ll keep to myself,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “But to get punked and pushed around …”
Izzo trailed off from there, going on to talk about loose balls and not getting on the glass.
But just days after he said he was hoping his team was finding some consistency with the goal of building off last weekend’s win over Indiana, it offered up another head-scratcher as the Spartans (18-7, 9-5 Big Ten) now sit two games back in the loss column in the Big Ten standings with a home game against first-place Illinois on Saturday.
“When we had some letdowns, we had some major letdowns,” Izzo said. “I thought every loose ball they got. In the first half they had seven offensive rebounds to our one. We did not run much offensively. I thought we missed some decent shots.
“Very tough loss for us, but we got what we deserved.”
Minutes later, Izzo was headed back to the locker room and the Spartans were then headed home with little – make that, nothing – to say about their third loss in the last four games as any shot at competing for the conference title moved further from reach.
Once again, Michigan State was plagued by turnovers and poor defensive rebounding. The Spartans gave the ball up 11 times, but some critical giveaways in the second half proved costly as Penn State also grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, the last from John Harrar a killer as he put the miss back in and was fouled, giving the Nittany Lions a four-point lead with less than a minute to play.
“We put ourselves in position in so many of these last games we played,” said Harrar, who had six offensive rebounds. “We deserve this win. … We just said to keep putting ourselves in position to go out and make big plays, trust our teammates and go finish the game.”
Penn State did that, putting together an 8-0 run after trailing, 54-50, with four minutes to play. Seth Lundy’s jumper gave the Nittany Lions the 55-54 lead and Harrar’s three-point play essentially put the game away.
“I thought our guys really competed,” Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “I’m happy for our guys. They deserved this.”
Michigan State’s offense struggled for most of the game as Julius Marble scored 14 for the Spartans and Max Christie added 10.
Penn State (10-12, 5-9) was 10-for-25 from 3-point range and got 17 points from Lundy and 16 from Harrar. Jalen Pickett added 10 points for the Nittany Lions.
The first half was a familiar one for Michigan State as the Spartans were plagued by turnovers and allowing offensive rebounds. They gave the ball up eight times in the opening half and allowed Penn State to grab seven offensive rebounds, leading to eight second-chance points.
Those numbers alone explained how Penn State shot 27.6% (8-for-29) in the first half yet found itself in a 24-24 tie at halftime. The five 3-pointer the Nittany Lions hit also played a role as Michigan State only took five from long distance and made two.
The start, at least, wasn’t as slow as has been the case lately for the Spartans. After a 3-pointer from Jaden Akins and a jumper on the baseline from Christie, the Spartans led, 16-9. It became 18-11 after a Julius Marble jump hook with 9:30 to play in the half, but from there, Penn State started to take control.
A 13-4 run over the next eight minutes, one that included three triples for the Nittany Lions, helped give the home team a 24-22 lead. Mady Sissoko hit jump hook in the lane to end a five-minute scoring drought for the Spartans as the half closed with A.J. Hoggard failing to convert on a drive to the basket.
The Spartans came out firing in the second half, scoring the first eight points to take a 32-24 lead just more than two minutes in after Joey Hauser and Gabe Brown hit back-to-back 3-pointers after a pair of free throws from Christie.
Michigan State kept pushing and after a Hauser triple and a jump hook from Marble, the Spartans had a 43-29 lead with 13:19 to play, the biggest lead of the game to that point.
“They came out on fire,” Shrewsberry said. “They were doing everything right and we were a little slow out of the gate. But we’ve been down before and have come back and chipped way. We talked about one possession at a time. There is no 14-point shot. … But luck was with us. We made some tough shots, made some timely shots.”
Penn State responded by scoring the next 11 points while putting together a 15-2 run to pull within one at 45-44 with 8:30 to play in the game.
It went back and forth from there as Michigan State had several chances to pull away but couldn’t do so, and when Tyson Walker turned the ball over and Penn State answered with a 3-pointer from Lundy, the Spartans’ lead was down to 54-53 with three minutes to play.
The Nittany Lions then got a jumper from Lundy and the three-point play from Harrar to take a 58-54 lead. Marble scored with 23.9 seconds left to make it a two-point game but the Nittany Lions put the game away at the free-throw line.
“Yeah, I'm frustrated,” said Izzo as Michigan State is now 4-5 since mid-January. “I've been emphasizing (things) and I’m a little disappointed in some guys not adhering to the emphasized statement. So I've taken the blame when I deserve the blame and right now when you get that many loose balls and don't come up with them, somebody on the floor has got to look in the mirror.”