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Michigan State men's basketball upset at home by Penn State, 75-70

February 4, 2020
Forward Xavier Tillman fights for possession during a basketball game against Penn State at the Breslin Center on Feb. 4, 2020.
Forward Xavier Tillman fights for possession during a basketball game against Penn State at the Breslin Center on Feb. 4, 2020. —
Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

No. 16 Michigan State (16-7, 8-4 Big Ten) fell to No. 22 Penn State (17-5, 7-4 Big ten), 75-70, at the Breslin Center on Tuesday night.

"Tough day for me today and the Spartans," coach Tom Izzo said following the one-point loss and retirement of head football coach Mark Dantonio.

Senior guard Cassius Winston scored a game-high 25 points, but failed to complete a three-point play that would’ve tied the game at 71 with 11 seconds to play.

Ironically enough, Winston's free-throw miss was just one of two for MSU, as they improved their 75.7% season average ultimately to no avail.

Penn State guard Myreon Jones had 20 points on 6-of-8 from beyond the arc. Lamar Stevens led Penn State with 24 points.

Jones capped a 12-0 run with a three to put the Nittany Lions up 31-21 in the first.

The Spartans responded: freshman forward Malik Hall added a pair of free throws. Then Winston hit a three. Freshman guard Rocket Watts ran coast to coast and confidently sunk a floater. 

But Myreon Jones made another, one of his six from beyond the arc, and that halted MSU’s 7-0 run.

The Nittany Lions held a lead as large as 11 nearing the final minute of the first half. Then Winston made what was for him an everyday finish, and Penn State coach Pat Chambers committed a technical immediately after. PSU’s halftime lead was suddenly six despite 50% shooting from three.

With 15 minutes to play, and the score reading 51-45 in favor of Penn State, MSU was outshooting PSU in percentage, but on 11 less shot attempts. The Spartans just so happened to have 11 turnovers at that moment.

"They had 21 points off turnovers. We had nine," Izzo said. "Because of those turnovers, we get 55 shots, they get 63, and that's the difference in the game."

Jones continued a hot first half into the second, converting 6-of-8 from long range, seemingly making one every time MSU attempted to establish itself.

"We didn't do the job," Izzo said. "We're the second best three-point defending team in the country and one guy hit five in the first half."

Junior forward Xavier Tillman’s layup struggles continued, as his shot rimmed out with a chance to take the lead with 11:17 left to play. Penn State took advantage once again; Myles Dread made one of his two three-pointers for a 58-55 advantage.

The Land Grant opponents would claw back and forth, but Penn State held a 69-66 lead with 47 seconds to tick.

Sophomore forward Aaron Henry, on a six-point day, continued to create his own shot and made a midrange to cut it to 69-68. Tillman committed the obligatory foul on Stevens, who made both.

"I just gotta take better care of the ball," Henry said after coughing up the ball four times. "I think a few of those turnovers I had were unexcusable... The jump ball was inexcusable. The missed layup was unexcusable. I made some shots but I made some mistakes too and I'm going to correct those too."

Winston went coast to coast through contact but missed the free throw. Stevens made two more, and Winston's desperation three fell short.

Michigan State will travel to Ann Arbor on Saturday to a 12 p.m. tipoff against rival Michigan, who comes off a home loss of its own to Ohio State.

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