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FINAL: Michigan State 80, Penn State 64: Strong shooting powers Spartans past Nittany Lions

December 11, 2021
<p>Then-junior forward Gabe Brown (44) fights for possession of the ball during a basketball game against Penn State at the Breslin Center on Feb. 4, 2020. The Spartans fell to the Nittany Lions, 70-75.</p>

Then-junior forward Gabe Brown (44) fights for possession of the ball during a basketball game against Penn State at the Breslin Center on Feb. 4, 2020. The Spartans fell to the Nittany Lions, 70-75.

Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

From start to finish, Michigan State overwhelmed Penn State offensively by shooting 52.5% from the field to secure an 80-64 victory and stay undefeated in the Big Ten.

MSU topped 80 points for the fourth time this season, thanks to its shooting and ability to score easy baskets in transition at will after Penn State stuck around with the Spartans early. 

The rims were on fire in the first half in East Lansing as Michigan State shot a blistering 53.1% and Penn State shot 43.3% from the field. 

Michigan State jumped out to a narrow lead after four minutes, thanks to another strong start from senior forward Gabe Brown. Brown went on a personal 5-0 run in 30 seconds, including an emphatic two-handed dunk on the baseline, putting MSU up nine-six early. 

It was the start of yet another strong game offensively for the senior captain, who finished with a team-high 15 points and led the team with four made three-pointers (4-7). Alongside his fellow senior center Marcus Bingham Jr., who finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds, Brown was the consistent positive for the Spartans in their win Saturday afternoon. 

Michigan State was not able to build on its early advantage, thanks to constant turnovers in the opening minutes of the game. The Spartans turned it over six times in the first half, including five in the first eight minutes, which undercut MSU’s strong shooting to start. 

Penn State was able to hang with the Spartans after the flurry from Brown and keep the margin within two points for the first quarter of the game. The Nittany Lions were led out the gate by junior forward Seth Lundy, who scored eight points in the first 10 minutes of the game. His ability to knock down insanely difficult jumpers over MSU’s defense kept the score close.

The teams continued to trade baskets down the stretch of the first half. MSU enjoyed its largest lead of the half, four, with seven minutes left after junior point guard Tyson Walker took matters into his own hands. Walker scored four straight points in transition and got a steal, giving MSU a 27-23 lead. 

The small spurt of dominance from Walker was just a small part of his dominant first-half performance. In 11 minutes, Walker tallied six points and five assists and was the focal point of the offense for most of the first half. 

Michigan State started to pull away in the final five minutes of the half, thanks to the Spartans’ best display of transition offense this season. MSU pulled out to a 35-27 lead with 3:37 left in the half because of three-straight baskets in transition from sophomore guard A.J. Hoggard and freshman guard Jaden Akins. The Spartans scored 20 points in transition in the first half to Penn State’s zero.

After leading by two, Michigan State closed the half outscoring the Nittany Lions 15 to 4 over the final six minutes of the half to take a 42-29 lead into halftime.

Michigan State’s torrid scoring pace continued into the final 20 minutes of the game out of the halftime break. After Penn State started the half with a three-point play, the Spartans scored on their first four offensive possessions to go on a 9-0 run to extend the lead to 19.

Penn State was not done fighting, though. The Nittany Lions cut the lead to 12 multiple times over the next 10 minutes, thanks to improved three-point shooting. After missing its first 10 attempts, Penn State started to find success from deep, making five of its next 10 long-range heaves to finish 5-20 from deep overall.

Michigan State began to pull away again after Hoggard and Bingham hit a pair of three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to extend the lead back to 18 with 11 minutes left. Penn State was able to continue to score, mainly from behind the arc, but could not stop Michigan State on defense to go on a run.

The Spartans continued to pour it on in transition, helping MSU balloon its lead. Michigan State ended the game with 31 fastbreak points while holding Penn State to zero.

Walker’s aggression was on full display once again after scoring a season-high 15 points last game against Minnesota. The catalyst for the instant attack was Walker, who finished with 10 points and nine assists, most of which came in the fastbreak. 

The Spartans and Nittany Lions continued to trade baskets for the final 10 minutes of the game, keeping Michigan State’s lead between 12 and 18 points. 

After suffering small collapses that allowed teams back into it late in the last two games, MSU was able to shut the door on any sort of comeback thanks to its consistent ability to score at will, giving MSU an 80-64 win over Penn State.

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