Dawson's double-double helps Michigan State win 66-60
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Branden Dawson knew Michigan State would get a battle from Penn State, but he helped the Spartans learn how to fight back.
''We stayed together,'' Dawson said after his team's 66-60 win Wednesday night, an escape for a team that has lost three overtime games. ''We didn't give up. We didn't point fingers. We just stayed in it.''
Dawson had his fourth double-double in five games with 12 points, 10 rebounds and three important blocked shots for Michigan State (13-6, 4-2 Big Ten).
Gavin Schilling added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans. Denzel Valentine scored 11 points and Travis Trice and Matt Costello each had 10.
''After the other games we've played, we'll take the win and move forward and see if we can get better,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. ''But I feel for Penn State. They're playing good enough. They're a good team with one of the best players in the league.''
D.J. Newbill, the nation's No. 4 scorer, had 18 of his 27 points in the second half and nearly gave the Nittany Lions (12-7, 0-6) their first win since Dec. 22.
''They got the stops when they needed them,'' Newbill said. ''Dawson was huge down the stretch, getting rebounds and blocking shots. That's a good team.''
It was good enough with help from a technical foul on frustrated Penn State coach Patrick Chambers. The momentum-changing call helped the Spartans pull away after the final tie at 51.
''That was probably four years of frustration,'' Chambers said. ''Our kids compete. They try. Let us decide the game.''
Chambers didn't think he deserved the technical that came after four straight calls went the other way, but acknowledged it may have cost his team.
''People look at Penn State differently, and I'm tired of it,'' Chambers said. ''But I hurt my team tonight.''
A short jumper from Valentine gave the Spartans the lead for good, 53-51, with 4:04 left. After Chambers was slapped during a timeout, Valentine hit 1 of 2 free throws and Bryn Forbes swished a 3-pointer from the left corner. When Trice took advantage of another Penn State turnover, Trice laid the ball in for a 59-51 advantage.
The Nittany Lions answered with five straight points, but Valentine hit Costello for a reverse layup and Trice added another layup after a block by Dawson to build the lead back to seven. After Trice and Newbill each missed a pair of free throws, Michigan State had just enough points to keep their conference title hopes alive.
The Spartans shot 58 percent from the field in the second half after hitting just 32 percent before the break. Both teams finished at 42.6 percent.
''We're going to compete for 40 minutes every game,'' Newbill said. ''We're going to give it our best effort and let the score decide itself. But they killed us on the offensive glass (16-8).
Michigan State had edges of 39-26 in rebounds, 16-7 in assists and 5-0 in blocked shots. It needed almost every one of those plays to withstand a terrific last 20 minutes from Newbill, who upped his Big Ten-leading average to 23.2 points per game in league play.
''He can't do it all,'' Chambers said. ''We put a lot of pressure on him to make plays. He took a lot of shots at the end because we were behind. I let him down tonight.''
Penn State: No current Nittany Lion has won in East Lansing, with Penn State's record there dropping to 1-21. The only win came in 2009 against a Final Four-bound team, with guard Talor Battle scoring 29 points.
Michigan State: It was the 400th game in Breslin Center's 26 seasons and the Spartans' 348th win, an .870 success rate. In Tom Izzo's 20 seasons as head coach, Michigan State is 139-26 (.842) in conference home games.
Penn State hosts Rutgers Saturday afternoon.
Michigan State visits Nebraska Saturday afternoon.