EAST LANSING – Michigan State basketball blew two second-half leads, fell behind by four points with 3:15 left, but thanks to a putback tip-in by Rocket Watts and some late-game free throws from Joey Hauser, and Marcus Bingham Jr.; the Spartans pulled it off.
For a split second, it felt eerily similar to the last second Purdue loss MSU experienced in early January.
However, this time, Michigan State found a way to come out on top.
"Aaron (Henry), in the huddle – we were four (points) down, he says 'it's time we win a game like this,' and I thought that's exactly what they did," MSU coach Tom Izzo said in the postgame press conference. "They executed."
The junior captain led all scorers with 20-points (9-for-19), four rebounds, three assists, and one block in 34 minutes of action, yet all Henry cared about was the end result.
"In the huddles, I made sure we understand this is winning time. This is where we have to take the next step as a team; this is where we have to grow," said Henry. "This is where we have to get better … I feel like we still have a lot of room to grow. I'm happy, but I'm not satisfied."
Before tip-off, these were two teams on opposite sides of the bubble. Penn State entered the matchup a top-30 team in KenPom and No. 29 in NCAA NET Rankings – the Spartans desperately needed a win.
Michigan State has been listed in the "next four out" grouping, which isn't where MSU wants to be this late in the year. It's a step in the right direction, but tonight didn't save the Spartans.
There's a lot of work left, and Iowa is on the clock.
"We got a big game this weekend," Henry said. "Penn State played hard, but we got a win."
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