Michigan State storms back in second half to knock off Penn State

Story posted March 3, 2020 in CommRadio, Sports by Logan Dolby

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa -  The Bryce Jordan Center was absolutely electric Tuesday night as the 20th-ranked Nittany Lions took on the 16-ranked Michigan State Spartans for the white out game, a Penn State tradition.

The lower bowl of the arena was almost completely packed and the upper bowl was opened up for the special senior night occasion. The total crowd attendance was over 13,400.

“I can’t thank the fans enough for coming out for this game, for our seniors," coach Pat Chambers said. "What it meant to our seniors, what it meant to our team. The students were awesome. They were so loud. I just wished for Lamar (Stevens) and Mike (Watkins) that they would go out on a W."

Michigan State found its way back from a 46-31 halftime deficit to defeat the Nittany Lions in their last home game of the season, 79-71.
Junior forward Xavier Tillman Sr. put on a show from the paint, tallying 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting and 15 boards to push the Spartans to a victory.

Out of all the seniors on the court tonight, Cassius Winston had the best overall game. The life-blood of the Spartans, Winston had 14 points and seven assists for the green and white. His clutch buckets and playmaking put the Nittany Lions to bed at the end of the contest.

“Cassius Winston is definitely one of the best players, college basketball players, in the country," coach Tom Izzo said of his starting point guard. "There’s not one human being in this room, including me, that could have done what he’s done, and (gone) through what he’s gone through, and we forget that."

The 3-point shot was the name of the game for Penn State, hitting 10-of-17 in the first half. With each big shot that found the bottom of the net, the Nittany Lions faithful would erupt into cheers and applause. In the second half, the Nittany Lions missed all 13 of their 3-point attempts.

Star senior Lamar Stevens had a rough game, shooting an abysmal 3-of-19 from the field, and at times looked upset on the court due to his poor shooting. He hit his first field goal with just over 12 minutes left in the second half.

Stevens finished the game with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists in his last game in Happy Valley. He will go down as one of the best players in Penn State men’s basketball history.

His thunderous dunk in the second half set the crowd into a frenzy, which continued with a made free throw, a ten second violation for the Spartans and then another contested bucket made by Stevens.

“We get that crowd because of what Lamar and Mike did," junior forward John Harrar said. We wouldn’t have that crowd if we didn’t have those seniors lead us to our record now and put so much faith into this program.” 

The Spartans played lockdown defense the rest of the game and shut down any kind of attack that Penn State tried to put together.

They did not allow many easy inside buckets for the Nittany Lions, who had a tough time hitting their shots as the game came to a close. Penn State did not register a field goal for the final five minutes of the game.

Senior forward Mike Watkins totaled 12 points and nine rebounds in his final game in State College. He started one last time and rewarded the team with good defense and a nice effort on the glass.

Chambers said that in the postgame ceremony with his seniors that he wanted to show gratitude and love towards the players that have shown loyalty to Penn State and to him as a coach throughout these past four years.

Penn State will head to Northwestern for its last game of the regular season this Saturday and looks to improve from its current 21-9 record. The Nittany Lions have lost four out of their last five games.

Michigan State plays its final game at home against the Ohio State Buckeyes this Sunday. Both teams will be ranked for the competition.



Logan Dolby is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email ldd5135@psu.edu.