In what may have legitimately been one of the best college basketball games of the year, Penn State went into East Lansing and took down the 16th-ranked Spartans by a final of 75-70. From the opening tip, it was clear that nothing was going to come easy for either team in this battle of ranked Big Ten foes. Both sides were outstanding on the defensive end and forced the opposing offense to earn every single shot that went down. In the end, Penn State was able to pick up its third-consecutive road win and fifth in a row overall, their longest conference winning streak since joining the Big Ten.
It was the first loss the Spartans were dealt at home since February 2, 2019, and the Lions' first win over the Spartans since 2017, and their first win in East Lansing since 2009.
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Penn State was led on the offensive end by Lamar Stevens (24 points) and Myreon Jones (20 points). Jones also had 5 assists to his name. Mike Watkins led the way for the Lions with 8 rebounds, with three of them coming on the offensive end. Cassius Winston led the way for the Spartans with 25 points. Coming into the game, Michigan State's biggest advantage seemed to be their rebounding, which made the fact that Penn State lost that battle on the boards by just two (36-34) a huge positive for them.
This one was back-and-forth right from the get-go, with both teams going on runs in the first 20 minutes, with the Lions getting a few key bounces here and there. It also didn't hurt that two huge calls, including a technical on head coach Tom Izzo, went Penn State's way.
Lamar Stevens got things going early on, tormenting freshman Malik Hall possession after possession. Some big-time three-pointers for Jones also played a huge part in helping the Lions build a first-half advantage. The Spartans dominated the glass early on, but Penn State was able to even things out as the half continued and Watkins asserted himself on the defensive end.
The second half was much of the same, with each team trading blows throughout the entirety of the final 20 minutes and both experiencing scoring lapses that allowed the other to steal the momentum. Unfortunately for Michigan State, they saved a five-minute scoring drought for the end of the half. The Lions didn't shoot well over the span, but it gave them a cushion to burn some clock.
The Spartans had a shot to tie things up late when Curtis Jones gave Cassius Winston an and-one attempt with 11 seconds remaining, but the Big Ten player of the year candidate couldn't convert the free throw. Stevens followed with two freebies and Jones put down two more after a missed Winston three to officially close things out.
Simply put, this was a fantastic basketball game and the kind of game that Penn State fans have been clamoring to see on a consistent basis. Not only that, but this is exactly the type of game that the Lions should expect come tournament time. The best news of the night, though? At no point did Chambers' team look outmatched by the Spartans or overwhelmed by the hostile crowd on the road.
Not only did this win give Penn State a great chance at earning a double-bye for the Big Ten Tournament, but as much confidence as a single win can give. Perhaps more than any other win this season, tonight's win showed that they truly are one of the country's best teams.
Next up, the Nittany Lions will return home to the Bryce Jordan Center to welcome in Minnesota. Penn State will be looking to avenge a 75-79 loss in Minneapolis in mid-January and push its winning streak to six games. The game is set to tip at 4:00 pm ET on Saturday, February 8.