East Lansing, MI – Tom Izzo made one change to Michigan State's starting lineup from Saturday's 10-point victory over Nebraska: Malik Hall in place of Joey Hauser.
In his first start of the season, Hall found some offensive consistency by driving and using post moves to shoot free throws resulting in five points and four rebounds during the first half.
The switch seemed to inspire Hauser, who scored nine points, grabbed two boards, and dished two assists in 11 minutes (checked in after the first TV timeout).
As the Spartans built a double-digit lead, Penn State went nearly six minutes without a point, but a 6-2 Nittany Lion run provided some momentum.
PSU didn't shoot it particularly well before halftime, missing its first nine 3-point attempts. They eventually drained one from outside with 1:09 left thanks to Myles Dread.
The Nittany Lions entered tonight's matchup the best offensive rebounding team in the conference and No. 2 in forcing turnovers (also No. 2 at forcing steals), which seemed like bad news for MSU considering they had 22 giveaways vs. the Cornhuskers.
While there's no denying Michigan State's lead should be more than eight at intermission, the Spartans should continue to have plenty of open looks – PSU is No. 13 in eFG% against, meaning they don't force many misses.
If MSU can keep the turnovers to a minimum in the second half, take advantage of some poor coverage, and continue to prioritize points in the paint (scored 16 in 1st half), they should be okay in this one.
Yet, things quickly began falling apart for Michigan State – PSU dwindled the Spartan lead down to three points (41-38) and were firing on all cylinders.
An unimpressive first 20-minutes was followed up with a 17-5 rally by Penn State; momentum had swung their way, and MSU desperately needed a response.
John Harrar, the Nittany Lions center, proved to be a difficult matchup for Michigan State's big men – he hit five-of-six shots for 15 points and 13 rebounds with under ten minutes remaining (finished with 17 points, 14 boards, and four assists).
And Penn State started heating up from deep, making four second half triples, sticking around at the Breslin Center.
PSU took a 52-51 lead at the 5:53 mark, its first since having a 6-5 advantage at the start; all of a sudden, it felt very similar to when MSU blew a large lead against Purdue.
Izzo, sensing a lack of urgency from his guys, called a timeout with 4:11 left – Michigan State trailed 56-54.
A Penn State lane violation essentially served as a turnover, allowing Hauser to reshoot from the line, making both to tie it at 58 before Marcus Bingham Jr. hit two huge charity stripe shots of his own to retain a 2-point lead.
With 16.2 seconds remaining, the Nittany Lions had an opportunity to win it, more than that, they had a great look from 3-point land, but it rimmed out leading to a Michigan State victory.
On the night, Aaron Henry led all scorers with 20-points and fifth-year senior Joshua Langford drained his 1,000 point.
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