Kenny Kaminski knew two hours before tipoff that he was going to have a big night.
The redshirt freshman set a new career high with 19 points, going 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, in the No. 9 MSU men’s basketball team’s 82-67 trouncing of Penn St. Thursday night.
“It’s a great feeling,” Kaminski said. “I haven’t felt like this in a long time. It’s finally great to getting back in the zone, and it felt like I was in a boat in the middle of the ocean trying to throw the ball into the ocean.”
The Spartans were again without junior forward Branden Dawson, and were hampered further as senior guard Keith Appling missed his first game in Green and White with a sore wrist.
Much to the excitement of the Izzone, senior forward Adreian Payne made his first appearance in seven games just more than three and a half minutes into the game.
The break didn’t make him any less gun-shy. He hit a jumper his first trip down the floor, missed a three-pointer the next time down, then got a one-handed put back.
“It was a strange game,” head coach Tom Izzo said. “They’ve been playing really good basketball. Tonight, it just looked like they ran out of gas and we made shots. When you make shots, everything changes.”
After Payne made his first shot, MSU went on a 13-4 run to push their lead to 14 points.
Sophomore guard Gary Harris missed his first four shots and didn’t score until 14 minutes in before connecting on a three after a nice pass from Valentine.
It was all Spartans in the second half.
Back-to-back three pointers by Kaminski and Harris halfway through the second half tore the roof off the Breslin Center and sealed the deal for an MSU win.
Penn State went on a 13-2 run after the starters went out to get within 12, but junior guard Keenan Wetzel hit the dagger with less than 30 seconds left.
Kaminski’s 19 was best for MSU. Harris, Payne and Costello also scored in double figures with 14, 12 and 10, respectively.
Sophomore guard Denzel Valentine was on triple-double watch for much of the second half. He came up short but still finished with a double-double of 11 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
“I told him at one of the media timeouts that I needed one more point so he left me in,” Valentine said. “He just said ‘You owe me one.’ I just thanked him.”
Tim Frazier led Penn St. with 22 points, and DJ Newbill added 18, but those two weren’t enough to overcome the balanced Spartans.
The Spartans return to action when they travel to Madison, Wisc. to take on Wisconsin at 3 p.m. Sunday.
“Going through my recruiting process, (Wisconsin) recruited me, and I knew right away that they don’t loose at home,” Kaminski said. “It’s kind of been their M.O. They’re a good team. The Big Ten is so fought that there is no bad team.”