Spartans use big second half to down Nittany Lions
East Lansing, MI (Sports Network) – Shannon Brown and Drew Neitzel combined
for 39 second-half points, as No. 11 Michigan State overcame the absence of
senior forward Paul Davis to defeat Penn State, 69-60, at the Breslin Center.
Brown scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half and Neitzel tallied 16 of
his 19 in final 20 minutes, as Michigan State (16-5, 4-3 Big Ten) bounced back
from Wednesday night’s 72-67 loss at Michigan.
Maurice Ager, the conference’s second leading scorer at 20.1 points per game,
finished with 10 points but struggled to a 3-of-19 effort from the floor.
Davis, averaging 18.1 points and 9.9 rebounds a game, missed the Big Ten
battle after taking a hit to the head during Friday’s practice. The blow
required 10 stitches and the forward felt lightheaded prior to tip-off.
The Spartans improved to 16-0 all-time versus Penn State in East Lansing.
Geary Claxton led Penn State (10-8, 2-5) with 19 points and 13 rebounds while
Mike Walker added 13 points off the bench. Milos Bogetic and Ben Luber
contributed 10 points apiece, as the Nittany Lions lost their third straight
Ager’s shooting struggles coupled with Davis’ injury left Brown and Neitzel as
the only viable scoring options, and the duo responded after Penn State built
a 32-27 halftime lead.
Brown’s three capped a 15-6 half-opening burst and gave MSU a 40-38 edge with
15:41 remaining. The off guard continued to drain jumpers from all over the
Breslin Center and his three from the top of the circle gave the Spartans a
55-50 lead with 7:43 left.
The Nittany Lions didn’t go away, as an 8-2 burst highlighted by Walker’s open
trey gave Penn State a 58-57 advantage with 5:31 remaining.
Ager made two free throws and Neitzel used a head fake to get free for a
jumper to give the Spartans a 61-58 edge, but Bogetic made a solid low post
move and converted a short bank shot with 3:35 left.
Brown sank two more from the charity stripe and Bogetic missed a jumper on the
other end. Neitzel’s three proved to be the dagger, giving Michigan State a
66-60 lead with 1:35 left.
Luber rimmed out a three and Neitzel drained another three to push the
Spartans in front by nine and seal the victory.
The Nittany Lions implemented an active 2-3 zone early in the contest. The
defense made Michigan State a jump shooting squad and allowed PSU to take a
23-17 lead. Luber’s jumper and a three by Bogetic from the top of the circle
opened the six-point edge with 7:59 left in the half and capped an 11-2 burst.
Walker, who was instant offense with 10 first-half points, drained a trey in
transition to again push Penn State to a six-point edge, 30-24. Then after
Neitzel made a trey, David Jackson sank a contested jumper with nine ticks
left to make the score 32-27.
Without Davis and with their opportunity to penetrate hindered by Penn State’s
zone, the Spartans shot just 34 percent in the half and made 3-of-16 from
beyond the arc.
Michigan State holds a commanding 23-3 lead in the all-time series and has won
seven consecutive meetings…Penn State received 23 points from its
bench…Jamelle Cornley, who entered the game averaging 13 points per game,
was held to four points on 2-of-8 shooting…Neitzel also dished out seven