Penn State Claws Back From Deficit, Upsets No. 19 Michigan State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State earned a win against an AP Top 25 opponent by upsetting the No. 19 Michigan State Spartans 62-58.
Leading the charge for the Nittany Lions was senior forward John Harrar with 16 points and 16 rebounds followed by junior forward Seth Lundy with 17 points, 15 of them coming from beyond the 3-point line. Senior guards Jalen Pickett and Sam Sessoms both contributed with 10 points for Pickett and nine points for Sessoms.
“Our guys really competed,” head coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “They deserve this in terms of how they played and what they’ve done.”
It was a low scoring affair in the first half, as both teams put up 24 points. The second half was more high scoring with both teams scoring over 30 points each.
Penn State’s defense held Michigan State to 24 points in the first half, along with eight turnovers in the process. The defense let up 11-of-24 shots from the floor, but stayed clean and disciplined, causing Michigan State to miss both free throws it had in the first half.
Michigan State’s head coach Tom Izzo credited the hustle Penn State displayed in the first half. “I thought every loose ball they got,” Izzo said.
The second half started and it was all Spartans, with Izzo’s squad going on an 8-0 run after the break. The offensive prowess of Michigan State drew early fouls against the Nittany Lions, with five fouls in the first five minutes of the second half, one of them being a technical foul on Shrewsberry.
“It was probably them playing better,” Shrewsberry said, regarding his first technical foul of the season. “Myles [Dread] came over and said ‘Hey, we got you.’…and I thought they really responded.”
Penn State went down 14 points to start the second half but started to claw their way back into the game on a 15-2 run. Sessoms opted to facilitate the offense early and get the Nittany Lions back into the game after a disastrous start to the second half.
After Sessoms, Pickett decided to take control with feeds to Harrar in the paint for two straight buckets. After that, the Nittany Lions took the driver’s seat.
“We took a couple bad shots, and that started it,” Izzo said. “They kept driving it down our throat and they did a good job at that.”
Once Penn State took the lead from a Harrar and-one basket, the lead stayed with the Nittany Lions. The Spartans made efforts down the stretch, but failed to convert in the final seconds.
This marked the first upset victory in the Shrewsberry tenure, but this is no stranger for the Nittany Lions. “I think every year I have been here, we beat a ranked team,” Harrar said.
At weekly media availability, Shrewsberry noted the close games Penn State was dropping, hoping that one would fall their way. After three consecutive close games lost, the blue and white got one in their favor.
Harrar described Shrewsberry’s leadership and their play style as their unofficial team motto: Gritty, not pretty. “That’s what is going to win us games in the Big Ten,” Harrar said.
The Nittany Lions continue their winning ways at home, going 8-4 at the Bryce Jordan Center and finding themselves 10-12 overall with a 5-9 conference record.
They march on in their homestand against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Thursday, February 17 at 4:00 p.m.
Jonathan Draeger is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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