Austin Lederman (@austinlederman)
Despite outstanding play by its backcourt, Penn State came up short of its first conference victory in an 81-72 defeat to No. 18 Michigan State.
Jermaine Marshall and D.J. Newbill both played terrific games for Penn State, but didn’t get help from their teammates. The backcourt teammates scored 56 (18-of-30) of the team’s 72 points.
“It was huge just to see the ball go in the basket,” Marshall said. “At Purdue, we shot i think 25 percent in the second half, so to come home, get your legs back underneath you and see the ball go in the basket is huge. We gotta do it on defense so we gotta get better on defense.”
Marshall also hauled in ten rebounds, part of a career day in which he scored 29 points. Newbill also had a career day, scoring 27 points (career-high) and dished out six assists.
“I was just taking what the defense give me,” Newbill said. “They was hedging short, they was giving me a driving lane so I was just taking what the defense gave me.”
Despite the play of the two guards, Penn State (8-9, 0-5 Big Ten) didn’t have an answer for Michigan State’s Adreian Payne. Payne and teammate Branden Dawson didn’t see the court until the 16:37 mark of the second half after being benched by coach Tom Izzo for a fight in a hotel room earlier in the day.
Payne’s play sparked the Spartans; he scored 20 points (6-of-9) – 16 that came in six minutes with Penn State unable to match up with his size and athleticism.
“I’ll tell you this, he hit some great shots,” said Penn State coach Pat Chambers. “He was energized, obviously, from what happened so he was ready to go. Though he did some great things and we didn’t have that punch back when he came in.”
With Payne and Dawson on the bench for the first half of the game, Penn State hung around and entered the locker room trailing by only four points, 29-25, after shooting 39.1 percent and committing only six turnovers.
Penn State’s defense faltered in the second half after holding Michigan State (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) to 40 percent shooting and forcing them to commit seven turnovers in the first half. The Spartans shot 53.3 percent (16-of-30) and didn’t commit a turnover in the second half.
Along with Payne, frontcourt big man Derrick Nix punished Penn State’s lack of size. Nix ended up with 12 points (5-of-5) five rebounds and four assists. Michigan State saw five of its players reach double-digits. Along with Payne and Nix, Garry Harris (14), Keith Appling (12) and Travis Trice (11) helped contribute on the offensive end.
“We was just trying to will our team to a win,” Newbill said. “You know, we lost so to us, them numbers is shallow. We were just trying to do whatever it takes to get the win.”
Unfortunately for Penn State, it wasn’t enough as the team is still in search of its first conference win after dropping the first five games of the conference schedule.
Penn State will stay in State College and host Nebraska Saturday afternoon for a 1:00 P.M. tip.