FINAL: Spartans upset by Penn State at Palestra for first Big Ten loss
After trailing Penn State (10-7 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) by nine points at halftime, the Spartans (11-6 overall, 3-1 Big Ten) were unable to overcome the Nittany Lions and fell at the Palestra by a final score of 72-63.
The loss to Penn State was MSU's first loss in conference play and snapped a four-game winning streak for the Spartans.
Penn State took the early lead with scores from sophomore guard Josh Reaves and redshirt-freshman Mike Watkins. By the end of the run, PSU was up by 12 points in the first three minutes of the half.
The Spartans would respond in the minutes to follow, holding Penn State on a scoring drought lasting nearly three minutes, in which the Nittany Lions would miss six of their next field goal attempts. Scores from freshman forward Nick Ward, junior point guard Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn Jr., and sophomore guard Matt McQuaid.
MSU's run was interrupted by a triple shot by Shep Garner but picked back up with a pair of free throws from redshirt-sophomore forward Kenny Goins and a triple from senior guard Alvin Ellis III to cut Penn State's lead to five points, 52-47.
Penn State regained the eight-point advantage with back-to-back dunks from sophomore guard Josh Reaves, 58-50 with 7:52 left in regulation.
With 4:40 left in the contest the Spartans had gone scoreless for the last four minutes prior and Penn State extended the lead to 11 points thanks to scores from
The Spartans chipped away at Penn State's lead through free throw shooting from Ward and a triple from Ellis. Down 61-55 with 3:29 left in regulation, head coach Tom Izzo called timeout.
The Spartans turned the ball over on key possessions after the timeout, giving Penn State multiple scoring drives, up by nine with 1:44 to play.
Freshman guard Cassius Winston hit MSU's last field goal, from downtown, making it 71-63 with 23.3 seconds left to play.
As a whole, the Spartans shot 40.4 percent from the field for the game, converting on 21-of-52 shot attempts, 6-of-20 from beyond the arc. MSU converted on 10-of-14 free throw shots and 17 turnovers.
Penn State finished shooting 46.4 percent from the field, connecting on 8-of-26 shots in the second half, five triples, and 13-for-20 shooting from the free-throw line. Penn State turned the ball over nine times in the half, assisting on 18 baskets in total.
Leading the way for MSU
Points - Nick Ward (16 points, 6-of-10 FG shooting)
Rebounds - Miles Bridges (6)
Assists - Cassius Winston (3)
Leading the way for Penn State
Points - Lamar Stevens (18)
Rebounds - Mike Watkins (9)
Assists - Josh Reaves (6)
The Spartans will host the University of Minnesota (14-2 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) for a rematch at the Breslin on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.