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Men's Hoops Game Blog - FINAL: #18 Michigan State 81, Penn State 72

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage of the Nittany Lion basketball team.

Take a look back at Penn State's 81-72 setback to No. 18 Michigan State on Wednesday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.  The Nittany Lions dropped to 8-9 on the season and 0-5 in Big Ten play.

Starting Lineups:
Penn State - 
G - Marshall, G - Newbill, F - Travis, F - Taylor, F - Borovnjak
Michigan State - G - Appling, G - Harris, G - Valentine, F - Gauna, C - Nix

15:10 1st Half - Michigan State 9, Penn State 4
D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall got the Nittany Lions off on the right foot with baskets in the paint, but Michigan State's 3-point shooting has been the story early.  Freshman Gary Harris and point guard Keith Appling are a combined 3-for-3 from beyond the 3-point arc.  The Spartans have moved the ball well on offense, but the Nittany Lions have closed out on the shot attempts well in the opening minutes.

11:35 1st Half - Michigan State 14, Penn State 9
Until Harris' lay-in heading into the media timeout, Michigan State had made four field goals, all of which coming from beyond the arc.  Head coach Patrick Chambers said earlier this week that he wanted to pack the paint to prevent Appling from taking the ball to the basket.  The Lions have done that, but Michigan State is making them pay with a 4-for-8 start from three.  Penn State is 2-for-2 from the foul line in the early minutes.  The Lions will need to continue getting to the foul line as the game progresses.

7:42 1st Half - Michigan State 16, Penn State 14
The Lions took some momentum into the media timeout by scoring five of the last six tallies.  A free throw from Newbill and a lay-in pulled the Lions to within three before Sasa Borovnjak knocked down a turnaround in the post to make it a one-point game.  Appling tallied a free throw to set the score at 16-14, but the Lions are playing at the tempo they need to keep the game within striking distance.

3:01 1st Half - Michigan State 22, Penn State 21
The Nittany Lions pulled even with the Spartans when Kevin Montminy streaked in for a breakway layup.  Michigan State countered with five unanswered points to set the score at 20-16, but the Lions answered in the form of three Marshall free throws.  Derrick Nix and Ross Travis exchanged baskets to make it 22-21, Spartans, heading into the final media timeout of the half.  Penn State has competed well for 17 minutes in the first half on the defensive end of the floor, and that is why the Lions are within one.

Halftime - Michigan State 29, Penn State 25
Penn State competed well for 20 minutes, and it trails by just four at the break.  The Lions shot 39 percent from the floor in a competitive first half inside the Bryce Jordan Center.  Newbill played an aggressive first half for the Lions, which is essential for Penn State to succeed in the Big Ten.  The Philadelphia native had nine points on 3-for-5 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 at the foul line.  Harris led the Spartans with nine tallies.  Neither team led by more than six during the opening 20 minutes, which were played without the services of Michigan State starters Adreian Payne and Brandon Dawson.  Nonetheless, Penn State did a nice job keeping the tempo at a pace that puts the Lions in a position to win.  There is a lot of basketball to play, but Penn State played the type of half it needed to be in a position to make a run in the second half of action.

15:30 2nd Half - Michigan State 35, Penn State 34
The Nittany Lions got off to a strong start to the second half, thanks to a trio of 3-pointers.  Marshall drained two from beyond the arc and Nick Colella added his second long ball of the night to set the score differential at one.  The Lions tied the game at 31-31 before baskets from Appling and Nix, but Marshall came right back with a triple.  Dawson and Payne entered the game for the first time, which changes things at both ends of the floor, but the Lions are finding some confidence.    

11:58 2nd Half - Michigan State 43, Penn State 40
Marshall is having a terrific night for the Nittany Lions.  His pull-up jumper at the 15:16 mark handed the Nittany Lions their first lead since the opening two minutes.  The junior has 17 points on just 11 shot attempts and seven rebounds.  Payne has made an immediate impact for the Spartans, scoring eight points on 3-for-3 shooting, but the Lions are still playing the type of game they need to as the game heads down the stretch.

7:35 2nd Half - Michigan State 61, Penn State 48
After sitting out the first 22-plus minutes of action, Payne and Dawson have been tremendous impact players for the Spartans in the second half.  Payne has equaled his career-high in just 10 minutes of action.  The Michigan State junior has 16 points on a blistering 6-for-7 shooting.  Dawson scored five points on successive possessions.  The end result is a 13-point lead for the Spartans, their largest of the night.  Penn State has shot the ball well, but has not been able to slow down the post production in the second half.

3:46 2nd Half - Michigan State 70, Penn State 59
The Spartans used a 7-2 scoring run to build a 16-point lead (70-54), but the Lions are still showing some life thanks to a pair of baskets and a foul shot from Newbill, who has a game-high 23 points.  He and Marshall have combined for 45 of Penn State's 59 tallies while shooting 14-23 from the field.  Outside of those two, Colella is the next highest scorer with six points.

Final - Michigan State 81, Penn State 72
The Nittany Lions used a 14-3 scoring run in the final five minutes to pull within five (73-68) at the 1:27 mark, but Michigan State's interior game was too much down the stretch.  The guard tandem of Marshall and Newbill were terrific on Wednesday night, finishing with 29 and 27, respectively, which were both career highs.  The duo went 18-for-30 from the field and combined for 56 of Penn State's 72 points.  Outside of those two, Colella was Penn State's leading scorer with six points. 
To win against a team with depth like Michigan State, Marshall and Newbill need some help on the offensive end of the floor.    

The Nittany Lions took a big stride on the offensive end of the floor. Largely thanks to the big nights from the two guards, Penn State shot 48 percent from the field (24-50) and got to the foul line 27 times.  The Lions committed just eight turnovers.  Nevertheless, Michigan State's post play was terrific in the second half, led by a truly dominant performance from Payne in his limited action.  Now, Penn State will look to build on Wednesday's positives leading up to its clash against Nebraska in the BJC on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Marshall said after the game that it was huge for the team to just see the ball go through the basket a little more on Wednesday night.  Coach Chambers emphasized the importance of getting stops during the postgame press conference.  He added that it is critical for the Lions to continue coming to work at practice every day looking to get better.


Keys to the Game:
- Make open looks
- Get to the foul line
- Offensive rebounding/second-chance points
- Defend the post

Final Pregame Word
Wednesday's game took on a different look with the news breaking earlier in the day that Michigan State starters Brandon Dawson and Adreian Payne will not start as a result of an incident at the team hotel.  While both big men are expected to see the floor, it will be interesting to see how effective they are after not participating in shootaround on Wednesday.  Nonetheless, Penn State needs to stay focused on the task at hand to snap out of a string of three-straight games of sub-30 percent shooting from the field.  The Lions got good looks at Purdue on Sunday, but could not get shots to fall.  Penn State needs a quick start against a Michigan State team that ranks second in the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense (37.6 percent).  The Lions will need a strong defensive performance against point guard Keith Appling and the Michigan State post players, but the outcome will hinge on Penn State's ability to make shots.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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