CONFERENCES COACHING CHANGES TRANSACTIONS GAMING MATCHUP CURRENT ODDS
(7) Michigan State (13-2) at Penn State (13-4)
Wednesday, January 14th, 6:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bryce Jordan Center (16,500) -- University Park, Pennsylvania. Television: BTN. Home Record: Michigan St. 6-0, Penn St. 10-1. Away Record: Michigan St. 3-0, Penn St. 2-2. Neutral Record: Michigan St. 4-2, Penn St. 1-1. Conference Record: Michigan St. 3-0, Penn St. 2-2. Series Record: Michigan State leads, 25-4.
GAME NOTES: The seventh-ranked Michigan State Spartans invade University Park this evening with hopes of continuing their torrid run through the Big Ten, as they take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in conference action from the Bryce Jordan Center.
Tom Izzo's Spartans bring a nine-game win streak into this contest and have gone 3-0 thus far in Big Ten play. The team took a break from its league business last weekend and posted one of the most impressive victories on the season, topping defending national champion Kansas 75-62 in East Lansing.
Ed DeChellis' Nittany Lions are certainly not a team to look past, as PSU has played well in 2008-09, with a 13-4 overall record. The team has cooled off a bit in terms of conference play, having split its four games thus far, including an embarrassing 79-59 whipping at Minnesota on Sunday.
The Spartans have dominated this series to date, winning 25 of the 29 matchups all-time. Michigan State has won nine of the last 10 meetings, but the one Penn State win during that stretch came in last year's clash at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Spartans were able to play tight defense from the outset and limited Kansas to a mere 18 first half points, leading to a huge 19-point lead at the half. Despite shooting just .393 from the floor themselves, the Spartans still did enough over the final 20 minutes to earn the victory over the Jayhawks. Kalin Lucas hit 5-of-11 shots from the floor and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line to pace the team with 22 points. Raymar Morgan and Travis Walton provided support with 13 and 11 points, respectively. The Spartans were able to outrebound Kansas, 42-31 and outscored the visiting Jayhawks 26-17 at the free-throw line. Michigan State has proved itself to be a dangerous offensive team this year, averaging 77.6 ppg, on .472 shooting. Morgan is a strong interior presence and currently leads the team in scoring (15.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.1 rpg). Lucas is next in the scoring column (13.9 ppg) and has played lights out at the point, amassing 85 assists compared to just 18 turnovers in the first 15 games. Chris Allen gives the team a viable long range threat, averaging 10.3 ppg.
The Nittany Lions are not the kind of team that gets out in transition and runs opponents out of its building. Instead, Penn State has used a more methodical approach to the game and it has paid off for the most part. The team is averaging a decent 70.7 ppg, but has played much better at the defensive end, limiting foes to 61.8 ppg, while outrebounding the competition by 6.4 boards per game. There is certainly offensive talent on the roster, led by one of the Big Ten's top scorers in Talor Battle. The 5-11 sophomore is shooting over 41 percent from three-point range (47-of-114) and is averaging nearly 19 points per game (18.9). A complete guard, Battle is also pacing the team in assists (94) and steals (25) and is even averaging 5.9 rebounds per game. Stanley Pringle knows how to shoot the three as well (.514 from long range) and adds 14.6 ppg to the cause. Jamelle Cornley rounds out the scoring threats with 13.9 ppg, while leading the way on the glass (6.9 rpg). Battle was able to pour in 19 points, and Cornley added 10, but there was no way to slow down the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis this past weekend, as the hometown team shot a blistering .625 from the floor, including a perfect 9-of-9 from behind the arc.
Penn State has won seven straight conference games at home, but making it eight in a row won't come easy. The Spartans have played well on the road and behind Lucas, Morgan and company, should do enough to secure a hard-fought victory here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan State 73, Penn State 65
01/14 10:23:13 ET