No. 5 men's basketball comes back from double digit deficit to beat Penn State
It’s not easy to come back from a double digit-deficit in the second half.
Let alone doing it two games in a row. But that’s what the Spartans did on Wednesday night.
After trailing Penn State 41-29 with 15:23 left, MSU (21-3, 9-3 Big Ten) used red-hot shooting to win its fifth straight, defeating the Nittany Lions (15-9, 5-6) at the Breslin Center, 76-68.
A two game win streak ended for the Nittany Lions, looking for their second upset against an AP Top 25 opponent in its last three games. The other upset was then-No. 13 Ohio State on the road last week, 82-79.
Wing Miles Bridges led the Spartans with 23 points. Point guard Cassius Winston scored 15 points and 10 assists, and shooting guard Joshua Langford scored 12.
Guard Tony Carr led all scorers with 28 for Penn State. Lamar Stevens scored 16 and was Penn State’s only other player to finish with double figures.
Penn State built a seven-point lead after holding the Spartans scoreless for more than six minutes in the first half. The drought, that began after an inside jumper from forward Gavin Schilling with 14:53 left in the first, ended after forward Jaren Jackson scored on a layup with 8:35 until halftime, trailing 17-12.
“As far as the game goes, I don’t know why we got off to such a poor start,” MSU coach Tom Izzo said. “We’ve done that in a couple games now. I think that fall on me. … the players have actually played harder than they played the opening 10 minutes, which doesn’t make any sense.
The Nittany Lions built their lead up to 10 before the Spartans ended the half on a 7-2 run, capped by a contested corner 3-pointer from Langford, cutting Penn State’s lead to 30-24. MSU was held to 37.5 percent shooting for the half. MSU turned the ball over nine times in the half.
“We played really good basketball for a long time,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers said. “I think Michigan State knows that we’re a pretty good basketball team and we’re going to fight.”
After seven fouls were called the first 1:29 of the second half, Penn State pushed its lead to 41-29 with 15:21 to play.
“We didn’t come out focused and locked in,” Langford said. “That’s what we have to get better at. That’s the biggest thing, our starts and our turnovers.”
The Spartans, however, countered with an 12-0 run, led by five points from Bridges and back-to-back scores from Winston, tying it at 41 with 12:03 remaining.
Moments later, an 8-0 run gave the Spartans their first lead since the first half, topped with a go-ahead layup from Winston with 9:31 to play, making it 51-49.
MSU pushed its biggest lead of the night with under a minute left. A pair of free throws from Bridges, gave the Spartans a 72-60 lead with 0:50 left. Misplays from the Spartans, however, helped Carr make back-to-back 3-pointers in a span of six seconds with 37 seconds to play.
Contrast to the first half, MSU shot 62.5 percent from the floor in the second half and finished 24-of-48 from the field.
The Spartans also defeated Maryland on the road Sunday, 74-68, trailing by 13 at halftime.
The Spartans are off until Saturday, when they travel to Bloomington to rematch Indiana at Assembly Hall. MSU defeated the Hoosiers (12-11, 5-6) 85-57 on Jan. 19, its only other matchup this weekend.. Tipoff is at 8:15 p.m.
“We started off slow and that’s something we can’t do against a better team because that will put us in a hole early,” said forward Nick Ward, who finished with six points and nine rebounds. “We won’t be able to come back. We just didn’t execute our game plan and that’s a big part.”