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Penn State Basketball

Penn State-Michigan State: 5 Things to Know Before Penn State Looks to Get Back to .500 in the Big 10

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Ace Baldwin

Penn State was looking pretty good until Sunday. 

The team had won three in a row, all by double digits, and had its chances to make it four at Northwestern. 

But Penn State didn’t capitalize and now is back in bounce-back mode against Michigan State. 

Here are five things to know. 

PENN STATE HOPES FOR BETTER DAYS

Coach Mike Rhoades and company will want PSU to have better days than it did both in the first meeting against Michigan State and in its most recent meeting, which took place on the fourth day of 2024 at Michigan State. The first MSU meeting was Penn State’s first game of the new year and it was ugly. PSU lost by 31. More recently, Penn State’s three-game winning streak ended with a 68-63 loss at Northwestern. Unlike Michigan State, where Penn State simply got outmuscled, this was a winnable game for PSU. Penn State held Northwestern to under 32 percent shooting from the field. Unfortunately for PSU, it shot under 44 percent, which is far from what it did in its previous two games against Iowa (55.9 percent) and Indiana (57.4 percent). Now, Penn State has to worry about Michigan State, and Rhoades doesn’t want his players to forget about what happened in East Lansing. 

PENN STATE WANTS KANYE TO BE STRONGER

It feels like it’s been a long time since PSU and its fans saw Kanye Clary play like one of the Big Ten’s best offensive players. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound guard is fantastic when he’s on, averaging more than 17 PPG, good for ninth in the league in scoring and fourth among guards. But Clary got hurt on January’s last Saturday against Minnesota and missed the next two games. Clary came off the bench against Iowa (18 minutes) and Northwestern (14 minutes). He scored eight points against Iowa and none against Northwestern.

Clary scored 21 in Penn State’s first meeting with Michigan State, and Penn State would like to see him perform closer to that than what he’s been since coming back from injury. 

THIS IS SPARTA

Michigan State came into the season ranked fourth and immediately lost to James Madison– which, to be fair, is 22-3 right now– at home. Since then, the season’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for Tom Izzo and his squad. There have been times when Michigan State looked like a national championship contender, such as when it pounded then-No. 6 Baylor by 24 points at home. There have also been times when it’s looked like less than that, as indicated by its 15-9 overall record and 7-6 Big Ten mark. But recently, Sparty’s been in good form. Michigan State hosted No. 10 Illinois this past Sunday and handled business, winning 88-80. MSU had scoring in the front court, with Malik Hall leading the team with 22 points, and in the backcourt, with A.J. Hoggard (23) and Tyson Walker (19) combining for 42. Walker, in particular, is a bucket. He averages 19 points per game, which is second to Northwestern’s Boo Buie amongst guards and sixth overall in the league. Walker did his thing in the first meeting against PSU, scoring 22 points and adding five assists and six steals. Walker averages two steals per game, which is tied for second. Who’s in first? Penn State Ace Baldwin, who’s well ahead of the pack, averaging 2.8. 

THE STANDINGS

Penn State is 6-7 in the Big Ten, tied for eighth and one game behind Michigan State, which sits alone in fifth. There are three teams between Michigan State in Penn State. Iowa (6-7) is at Maryland tonight at 8:30. Indiana (6-7) doesn’t play until Sunday, by which point Penn State will have played Michigan State and Nebraska. Minnesota (6-6) plays at Purdue Thursday with tipoff scheduled for 8:30.

HOW TO WATCH

Penn State is a 3.5-point underdog according to FanDuel Sportsbook. For those who won’t be in the Bryce Jordan Center tonight, here’s more information on how to watch and listen to the game. 

  • TV: Big Ten Network 
  • TV announcers: Jason Ross Jr. (pxp), LaPhonso Ellis (color)
  • Radio: Penn State Sports Network 
  • Radio announcers: Steve Jones (pxp), Dick Jerardi (color)
  • National radio: Sirius XM Ch. 381 & SXM App Ch. 971

 

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