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Jan. 17, 2013
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State fought its way back from a 16-point deficit late in the second half to pull within five, but No. 18 Michigan State held tough to take home an 81-72 win in the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday night.
Nittany Lion point guard and sophomore D.J. Newbill said that he knows his team has what it takes to become a competitive one within the Big Ten conference, but there is still work to be done.
"We're just trying to do whatever it takes to win," said Newbill.
The Lions came out of the gate ready to compete and went toe-to-toe with the Spartans for the first 20 minutes of the game. Penn State played a solid defensive half, making things difficult for the Spartans. At halftime, Michigan State led by just four with a score of 29-25.
Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers said that the energy and no-quit mentality he saw from his team in that opening half was a definite high-point of the evening.
"The first half I thought we did a good job," said Chambers. "We played pretty hard, we did some things and mixed up our defenses and I'm really proud of the effort and the way the guys came out. We forced them into some tough shots which was good."
Newbill explained that he and his offense were trying to develop their game and take smarter shots as the game went along. In order to be successful against a top 20 team like Michigan State, Newbill said that it was all about the speed of the game.
"We slowed it down and started running our stuff and that helped us," said Newbill. "In certain games you might want to push the pace and in others you might want to slow it down, it all depends on the game."
And despite a terrific second-half rally, the Spartans scored 52 points in the final 20 minutes to pull away for the victory. Five of the ten Michigan State athletes who took the floor scored in the double-digits, led by junior forward Adreian Payne's game-high of 20.
Moving forward, Chambers said that his team's 48 percent shooting from the floor is something he hopes the team can build on. He was especially happy to see the 72 points that his Lions were able to put up, as they had not scored more than 54 total points in their last four outings.
But Chambers recognizes the talent and intensity of Big Ten basketball, and said that his team is going to have to play even harder and be ever smarter if it wants to be competitive.
"To give up 52 points in a half, that's not going to get it done," said Chambers. "In this league you need to get stops and especially at home. For the most part, they are playing harder. It's that lunch-pail mentality - they're coming to work and trying to get better."
Most of that offensive effort that Chambers was so pleased to see came at the hands of Newbill and Jermaine Marshall. Both guards hit career-highs as Newbill scored a career-best 27 points and Marshall notched a career-high 29. Marshall also tallied his first career double-double as he added on a career-best 10 rebounds against the Spartans.
But Newbill said that it isn't about how good his or Marshall's box scores look after one game. The Nittany Lion captain said that his team's success depends on the ability to find a way to push for a full 40 minutes in every game that is yet to be played.
"We're playing desperate right now but we're playing with a sense of urgency," said Newbill. "Tomorrow, we've got to come back with a great attitude. We can't just focus on one game, we've got to keep moving forward - it's a marathon."