For the first time in school history, Penn State has emerged from East Lansing victorious. The game looked to be a formality when the Nittany Lions had a 12-point lead with seven minutes remaining in the game. That's when pathetic free throw shooting doomed Penn State, and the Spartans of Michigan State found a way to crawl back into the game.
In the end, Michigan State just couldn't hit the needed clutch shot, and Penn State won the battle of attrition, 72-68. Talor Battle spear-headed the Nittany Lions attack, with 29 points and six three-pointers.
An interesting sequence opened the second half. After Jamelle Cornley scored inside to push the Penn State lead to five, he was called for a marginal -- at best -- technical foul by Ed Hightower. This was the second consecutive week Cornley has been slapped for a T by Hightower, and both times it seemed to spark the big man. He finished with 16 points.
For Michigan State, there is certainly reason for concern. They recently lost to Northwestern in the Breslin Center. Not to say that Penn State and Northwestern are bad teams, because they certainly aren't, but the ninth-best team in the nation (MSU's current ranking) doesn't lose to both at home. It's just that simple. Now, the Spartans find themselves tied with Purdue in the loss column atop the Big Ten.
In fairness, Michigan State was missing Raymar Morgan, though he hasn't been a huge factor for a few weeks.
For Penn State, they are most certainly bound for the Big Dance should they continue on this path. They are now 6-3 in league play, with wins over the two first-place teams, and 17-5 overall. With the inside-outside scoring balance, and Battle's ability to score explosively, they could very well be a scary matchup for an elite seed in the second round, come mid-March. They'll visit Michigan and host Wisconsin this coming week. They way those two teams are currently playing, in addition to how PSU is playing (4 straight wins), you have to like their chances of pushing the conference record to 8-3.
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Who woulda thought that heading into the season?