Penn State 75, No. 6 Michigan 69: Nittany Lions Pull the Upset

By Matthew Filipovits on February 12, 2019 at 11:56 pm
Feb 12, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions forward Lamar Stevens (11) celebrates with fans after defeating the Michigan Wolverines at Bryce Jordan Center.
© Linsey Fagan-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in what feels like forever, Penn State played a complete basketball game. Lamar Stevens led the charge with yet another double-double, logging 26 points and 12 rebounds, as the Nittany Lions pulled off a massive upset over the sixth-ranked Michigan Wolverines. Myles Dread added in 17 on 5-8 shooting, all from behind the arc. His contributions won't show up in the stat sheet, but Jamari Wheeler deserves a game ball as much an anyone for his tenacious defense and for flat-out out-hustling everybody on the court. 

Penn State put together one of their best first halves of the season to kick things off, shooting over 47 percent in the opening 20 minutes. They really got hot around the midway point of the half, going on an 18-9 run over the final 10 minutes of the opening period. The Nittany Lions were able to spread the court out a bit with Michigan's Iggy Brazdeikis sidelined with foul trouble. Rasir Bolton closed out the period with a fantastic finger roll at the buzzer, but that wasn't the most notable event to end the half. 

Wheeler set a hard screen on Zavier Simpson on the final play, which caused Michigan head coach John Beilein to absolutely lose his mind and eventually led to a pair of technical fouls and an ejection as the teams matriculated into the locker room. It was the first time he's been ejected in over 35 years, per Beilein himself in the post-game press conference. The technicals led to the strange sight of Bolton getting to shoot four free throws before the ball was inbounded to start the second half. He made 3-4, meaning Penn State had a 40-27 lead at halftime but a 43-27 lead at the start of the second half.

Despite all the momentum on their side, the Nittany Lions came out of halftime ice cold, hitting just two field goals in the opening five minutes. The Wolverines took advantage of the tough start, bringing the game back within single digits at the under-12 media timeout. Charles Matthews led the comeback effort for the Wolverines, scoring 15 of his 24 points in the final period. Pat Chambers quickly shifted away from his big lineup as the Nittany Lions looked to slow down Matthews and cling to their lead.

Turnovers quickly began piling up for the Nittany Lions, allowing the Wolverines to cut the lead all the down to four with about nine minutes to go. That's when the Penn State offense began to came back to life. A big three from Dread followed by a Watkins tip-in gave Penn State some breathing room again, before a two-minute scoring drought hit late. Some Bolton free throws brought the lead back up to double-digits with about 90 seconds to go. Michigan's press started to look like it was finally going to overwhelm Penn State, forcing the Nittany Lions to bad pass after bad pass that seemed to make the final minute last six hours. Finally, Matthews fouled out which took all of the air out of the Wolverines comeback and Penn State was able to put this one away after a few more trips to the free throw line.

This is Penn State's first win over Michigan since 2013 and their second win conference win in three games, after starting the conference season 0-10. Pat Chambers' squad will have four days off before traveling to West Lafayette to take on the 12-ranked Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday afternoon.


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