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Penn State Defeats Michigan 66-57, Advances To Face Indiana in Big Ten Tournament

Indiana will open the 2024 Big Ten Tournament on Thursday against Penn State, which defeated Michigan on Wednesday behind 20 points from Zach Hicks and 17 points from Ace Baldwin. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hoosiers in both regular season matchups this year.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – No. 11 seed Penn State took care of business with a 66-57 win over No. 14 seed Michigan on Wednesday, the opening night of the Big Ten Tournament at the Target Center.

The win was perhaps more expected than it was overly impressive, given Penn State's opponent. Michigan ended its season with nine consecutive losses and has a 1-14 record since Jan. 18. In year five under coach Juwan Howard, the Wolverines finished 8-24 overall and 3-17 in the Big Ten. 

It was an ugly start for Michigan, which shot 24.1% in the first half, committed 11 turnovers and found itself trailing by 11 points through the first 20 minutes. Penn State's full-court press certainly seemed to knock Michigan off its game.

Baldwin said the key to Penn State's defensive effort was limiting Michigan point guard Dug McDaniel, who shot 3-for-12 and committed four turnovers.

"The game plan was just to cut off the head of the snake, which is Dug," Baldwin said. "I think we did a pretty good job of it. I think a lot of teams, they don't want to dribble against our press. So I think that'll keep working for us."

The second half wasn't much better. Michigan cut the lead four points with 17:36 left, and again at the 9:53 mark, but Penn State responded with a 16-5 run and cruised comfortably to the win. Terrance Williams II finished as Michigan's leading scorer with 15 points, but the Wolverines shot 34.5% from the field. 

Zach Hicks' 3-point shooting was the main reason for Penn State's early lead, as he made 4-of-6 3-point attempts in the first half. He stayed hot in the second half, knocking down another pair of attempts. Hicks, a 6-foot-7 wing, scored a game-high 20 points.

Penn State finished 7-for-17 from the 3-point line.

"It's what we do," Penn State coach Mike Rhoades said. "We shoot the ball when you're open, and we work on it. If you want the neon green light like Zach, you better be in the gym all summer long, and you better come back late at night and shoot ... When the head coach tells you you've got the green light, it all works together."

Point guard Ace Baldwin Jr. scored six first-half points, but his impact was felt more as passer, dishing out three assists, and on the defensive end, poking away two steals. In the second half, drove hard to the basket possession after possession, leading to eight free throw attempts. Baldwin finished with 17 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals. 

With this win, Penn State advances to the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, where it will face Indiana on Thursday at approximately 9 p.m. ET. The Nittany Lions won both matchups against the Hoosiers in the regular season, 85-71 on Feb. 3 in Bloomington, Ind. and 83-74 on Feb. 24 in University Park, Pa.  

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