No. 16 Michigan State men’s basketball will host what coach Tom Izzo called “the hottest team in the league,” when No. 22 Penn State travels to the Breslin Center Tuesday night. The Nittany Lions (16-5 overall, 6-4 Big Ten) will tip-off against the Spartans at 8 p.m., looking to extend a four-game win streak.
“They’ve got a little bit of everything,” Izzo said of the Nittany Lions. “Good guards, they got bigs, I think they're well-coached and they’re a hot team right now. There’s no question we got our work cut out for us.”
Izzo mentioned senior forward Lamar Stevens as Penn State’s “go-to,” and senior forward Mike Watkins as a “monster,” defensively.
Stevens averages 16.5 points per game while Watkins ranks second in Penn State’s all-time list of career blocks.
Penn State will travel to East Lansing following a win Saturday at Nebraska. The Nittany Lions also travel with a road win at Michigan on Jan. 22 under their belts.
Michigan State and junior forward Xavier Tillman will be looking for redemption Tuesday night after falling to Wisconsin 64-63 on Saturday.
After a dreadful first half performance, MSU couldn’t come back to take a win on the road in Madison.
“Don’t be shocked about anything that’s going on,” Izzo said of his team's current standing in a press conference on Feb. 3. “I've talked to you about our schedule, I've talked to you about our expectations, I’ve talked to you about what we’ve lost and what we’ve gone through and that has not changed. There’s nothing shocking about this. It’s disappointing that we started out a half like we did.”
As the team leader, senior guard Cassius Winston acknowledged his teams struggles in Wisconsin but voiced optimism for how they will recover.
“We’re still tied for the top of the league,” Winston said. “Our season isn’t over, we’re not fighting from behind, so we’re still in the driver’s seat a little bit, so we get a chance to get back to practice, get back out there, win a game and try to carry some momentum going forward.”
Izzo said that sophomore forward Gabe Brown, who played just three minutes in Wisconsin due to illness, has been better in practice and should see more time Tuesday night.
Jayna Bardahl MSU, 78-70
Paolo Giannandrea MSU, 83-73