Penn State Falters in Second Half, Drops Conference Opener to Michigan State

Story posted January 1, 2014 in CommRadio, Sports by Jason Shawley

Penn State (9-5, 0-1 Big Ten) fell 79-63 to the fifth ranked Michigan State Spartans (12-1, 1-0 Big Ten) in their conference opener, despite holding an impressive halftime lead.

The Nittany Lions came roaring out of the gate and jumped on the visitors early. Penn State held as much as an 11-point lead and played arguably their best half of the season against a top opponent.

Michigan State kept the game close in the first half, with great perimeter shooting (10- of-20) but the Nittany Lions answered at every turn. Penn State went into the locker room with a 47-40 lead over the Spartans.

The second half was a completely different story as Penn State saw the Spartans go on a 10-0 run to start the frame. Michigan State simply outplayed the Nittany Lions down the stretch, outscoring the home team 39-16 following intermission.

Michigan State played mistake-free basketball in the second half, while the Nittany Lions compiled turnovers and sloppy shooting to give the Spartans the momentum.

Branden Dawson led all Michigan State scorers with 20 points and also compiled nine rebounds. Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Travis Trice also scored double digits in the winning effort.

“They missed some good shots in the second half that they made in the first half,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said about the Penn State’s downward swing. “Those guys play hard and they’re gonna get better.”

Brandon Taylor and DJ Newbill combined for 35 points for the Nittany Lions and kept the Spartans on their heels with superb first half shooting performances. Despite their efforts, Penn State’s combined second half shooting was poor and contributed greatly to the loss.

“I think we let missing shots dictate our effort,” Nittany Lion head coach Pat Chambers said following the loss. “The team that I envisioned played in the first half.”

The Nittany Lions will have the next couple of days off and will play Illinois on Saturday in Champaign. Tip is set for 2:15.

Jason Shawley is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)