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Penn State Basketball

Penn State Basketball Falls to Michigan State 80-72, Now 6-8 in Big Ten

Penn State athletics

Penn State basketball’s Valentine’s Day wasn’t full of hearts, candy, chocolate, and a pleasant date with Michigan State. Tom Izzo’s offense was in full control from the opening tip en route to an 80-72 victory inside the Bryce Jordan Center. 

The Nittany Lions (12-13, 6-8 Big Ten) scored seven of the first nine points before Michigan State found its footing. 

Michigan State stretched the lead to nine 22-13 with 9:19 left in the first half. Three made free throws by Ace Baldwin after being fouled behind the arc, paired with a Nick Kern dunk, propelled Penn State on a 5-0 run (22-18). Michigan State (16-9, 8-6 Big Ten) answered back on an 8-0 run and resulted in a PSU timeout with 6:33 left in the half.

Penn State couldn’t stop Jaden Akens. He started the night 4-4 from three with a game-leading 16 points with two and a half minutes left in the first half.  Sparty made six of their last seven shots to force a timeout from Mike Rhodes, with the first 20 minutes getting out of hand. 

The Nittany Lions trailed 43-26 at the last media timeout before entering the break down 14. Sparty took a 45-31 lead to the locker room thanks to a 56% clip from the floor and 5-9 behind the three-point arc. 

Akins remained at 16 points on 6-10 shooting as SMSU made seven of their last nine from the field. Malik Hall added nine.

PSU struggled to find an offensive rhythm and shot slightly under 38% (11-19) despite making six of its 14 three-point shots. Ace Baldwin led PSU with eight points, while Puff Johnson and Zach Hicks drained two threes each. The team turned the ball over 15 total times and allowed half of MSU’s points in the paint.

Penn State cut the deficit in the second half to 10 with as many minutes remaining and down to as many as eight but never reached one or two possessions. 

Baldwin and Hicks paced Penn State with 15 points apiece. Nick Kern added 14 on 6-7 shooting but turned it over five times and dealt with foul trouble. The Nittany Lions shot 45% overall and 12-23 (52%) from three. 

Michigan State’s offense kept on thriving with little answers from the Nittany Lions. Hall set a career-high with a game-high 29 points on 10-13 shooting and 8-8 at the free-throw line. Aikens finished the night with 20, and Carson Cooper added 10 off the bench. 

Penn State hits the road Saturday for a noon contest against Nebraska (17-8, 7-7 Big Ten) on Big Ten Network with the conference tournament a month away.

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