Battle, Penn St top No. 9 Michigan St 72-68
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Remembering Penn State’s last loss at Michigan State, Talor Battle delivered a victory the Nittany Lions fans won’t soon forget.
Battle score a career-high 29 points in Penn State’s 72-68 victory over No. 9 Spartans on Sunday, but wouldn’t take credit for the win—or blame for Penn State’s 0-16 record in previous visits to East Lansing.
“I guess we made history, huh?” Battle said. “Coach mentioned that we hadn’t won here. But I wasn’t on those other Penn State teams. This is the ’08-09 team. And we weren’t going to lose by 37 like last year.”
Battle and Jamelle Cornley made sure of that, despite nearly giving the game to Michigan State with a 1-for-8 stretch at the foul line.
“This win shows what we’re all about,” said Cornley, who added 16 points. “We’re a very experienced team. And when we get down, we’re relentless.”
Battle was 11-for-19 from the field and 6-for-12 from 3-point range, as Ed DeChellis’ team (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten) shot 56.3 percent from the field.
“He’s a big-game player,” DeChellis said. “He loves this atmosphere. He wanted the ball. And we kept letting him have the ball.”
The win gives Penn State (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten) its first four-game conference win streak since 1996.
Kalin Lucas had 23 points but missed a tying free throw and an off-balance 3 in the final 12 seconds for the Spartans (17-4, 7-2), who played without Raymar Morgan (walking pneumonia) for 37 minutes and fell into a first-place tie with Purdue in the Big Ten loss column.
“It was a good matchup,” Lucas said of a meeting of the league’s consensus top two point guards. “Battle didn’t guard me much because they were in a zone. But he played his butt off.”
Lucas was 7-for-21 from the field and 8-for-9 at the line. But that one miss and some unusually poor defense by his teammates kept his team from having another chance in overtime.
“It was a strange game,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “Any time you go from 13 up to 12 down and still have a chance at the end is strange. But the game wasn’t lost on Kalin’s free throw. It was lost when we were up seven and decided not to guard anyone.”
Goran Suton and Chris Allen each had 11 points for the Spartans, who lost their second straight home game after winning 28 in a row in the Breslin Center.
Penn State overcame a 29-16 deficit with a barrage of 3-pointers late and took a 38-37 halftime lead. Battle had 18 of his points in the first 20 minutes.
The Nittany Lions used an 11-0 run to lead 59-49 on Battle’s banked 3. They went up 68-56 before holding off a furious final surge.
With a 1-for-8 stretch at the line, Penn State opened the door but the Spartans didn’t take advantage.
The back-to-back home losses are the first for Michigan State since December 1997 and the first in conference play since January and February of that year.
“You win at home because you work,” Izzo said. “You don’t win at home because you’re supposed to. It’s an entitlement society, and I think our players kind of feel that way.”
Izzo didn’t know much about Morgan’s condition, except that he couldn’t contribute much with what began two weeks ago as a viral infection.
“It’s a season of I-don’t-knows,” he said of a series of injuries and sicknesses. “But some time, when we get everyone back, we’re going to be a good basketball team, a real good team.”