EAST LANSING, Mich. — With a showdown against
first-place Ohio State approaching, one blowout wasn’t enough Wednesday night
for Michigan State.
The 11th-ranked Spartans raced to a big lead, let up on the gas and then
floored it again late to cruise to a 77-57 victory over Penn State at the
This was a game of ugly, uglier and ugliest.
“Bad, good, bad, good, bad, good, good,” is how Michigan State coach Tom Izzo
described his team’s performance.
Both teams missed their first eight shots. It took Penn State more than 7 1/2
minutes to even score a point.
Despite shooting 26.7 percent in the first half, Michigan State still led by 14
points. That’s because Penn State shot a gruesome 20.8 percent and was getting
outrebounded by a whopping 30-14 at halftime.
The Spartans went on to build the lead to 22 in the first four minutes of the
second half. Seemingly out of nowhere,
however, Penn State came charging back. A 21-5 run cut the lead to five points
with 9:18 left.
It was the type of night when you thought Michigan State should have been
leading by 30, but it was suddenly a two-possession game.
Well, not for long.
Michigan State turned it on again, making a 23-5 run over the next 6 1/2
minutes to turn it back into a rout.
This was a total trap game for Michigan State, sandwiched between a victory
over Michigan on Sunday and Saturday’s matchup at No. 3 Ohio State.
“It was more discouraging than encouraging,” Izzo said of the win. “I haven’t
felt that way in a long time. I didn’t like our approach today. I hate to be
this way after a 20-point win.”
Izzo should feel good about this much: His team responded when it was
necessary. A 20-point victory on a lousy night says a lot about the Spartans,
even against a lowly, outmanned Penn State team.
When the Nittany Lions (10-15, 2-10 Big Ten) made their rally, Michigan State
senior captain Draymond Green — who else? — came to the rescue in an instant.
Green scored 11 of his game-high 23 points during the
“That’s what seniors do, that’s what winners do,” Penn State coach Patrick
Chambers said of Green taking the game over. “We couldn’t defend him.”
Izzo wasn’t surprised.
“He’s supposed to do that,” the coach said of Green.
And Green knows it.
“I just started calling my own number,” he said. “(Point guard Travis) Trice
was trying to call a play. I changed the play, just told him, ‘Come here to
“Coach has told me, ‘When it’s money time, you’ve got to get
inside and score a basket or get fouled.’ He don’t have to tell me that
anymore. I know now when it’s money time, it’s time for me to get down there,
get fouled or score a bucket.
“That’s what I wanted to do tonight. Fortunately, I was able
to do it.”
Green also had 12 rebounds and five assists.
“He could have had a triple-double if someone could make a layup,” Izzo said.
The Spartans took a 9-0 lead before Nick Colella finally hit a 3-pointer for
the Nittany Lions with 12:20 remaining in the first half.
Penn State came on to shoot 53.6 percent in the second half, briefly putting a
scare into the home crowd.
“We compete for stretches, but it’s a 40-minute game,” Chambers said.
Michigan State won the game at the free-throw line (23-for-34 to Penn State’s
11-for-16) and on the boards (44-25).
Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson added 12 points apiece for the Spartans. Point
guard Keith Appling had 10 points and seven assists. The Nittany Lions were led
by Tim Frazier’s 19 points.
Now Michigan State turns its focus to Saturday’s battle in Columbus, Ohio,
between the top two Big Ten teams. MSU (19-5, 8-3) trails Ohio State (21-3,
9-2) by one game with seven to play.
The Buckeyes were supposed to be in this position, but not necessarily the
Spartans, who have reloaded when some thought they might need a year or so to
“It’s kind of fun,” Izzo said. “We put ourselves in position to play in a big
“It’s awesome. I think we’ll respond. We’ve played in some big games this year.
We’ll be able to lean on that a little bit. We’ve been there. I’m sure that
place will be hopping and rocking.
“Pretty exciting for us. It’s a testament to those guys, Day-Day (Green), Keith
(Appling), all of them.”