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January 16, 2013

No. 18 Michigan State holds off Penn State

STATE COLLEGE — Adreian Payne scored 20 points after spending the first half on the bench following a morning scuffle with teammate Brandon Dawson, and No. 18 Michigan State held on for a 81-72 victory against Penn State on Wednesday night.

Payne, a sturdy 6-foot-10 forward, made up for lost time by dominating the post in the second half. He had 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting in a stretch of six-plus minutes after entering the game with about 16:30 left.

Payne added a 3-pointer – only his second made 3 of the year – in the middle of a 20-8 run to help the Spartans (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) pull ahead midway through the second half.

Penn State (8-9, 0-5) stayed closed much of the night in large part because of Jermaine Marshall, who scored 22 of his career-high 29 points after halftime.

His layup with 15:16 left gave the Nittany Lions a 36-35 lead, riling up a Jordan Center crowd eager to see an upset.

But Payne answered with a layup, and the Spartans never looked back from there. Penn State fell behind by 16 in the second half before pulling to 73-68-with 1:27 left on a basket from Marshall.

Michigan State went 8 of 10 from the foul line the rest of the way to hold on. Center Derrick Nix finished with 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field, while Dawson had five points and five rebounds.

The day got off to a rough start after an argument between roommates Dawson and Payne escalated into an exchange of punches in a second-floor lobby of a Penn State campus hotel before the Spartans boarded a bus for the Jordan Center.

Police were called after a wall was dented at the hotel. The players were expected to pay for the damage.

“I’ve spent my entire afternoon meeting with the players involved and they are both sincerely remorseful,” Tom Izzo said in a statement before the game.

Both Dawson, who had started Michigan State’s previous 17 games, and top reserve Payne spent the first half watching from the bench before entering early in the second period.

Two Penn State students dressed in green behind a bucket poked fun at the sparring Spartans, swaying and singing “Why can’t we be friends?” during a foul shot.

Payne had the last laugh.

Until he entered the game, the Spartans looked disjointed at times on offense and rushed shots in the first half. Penn State limited Michigan State’s second-chance points.

The Nittany Lions got several good looks in the post, but were haunted by season-worst shooting woes. Athletic guard D.J. Newbill (career-high 27 points) found success driving the lane in the first half with Payne and Dawson – Michigan State’s top two shot-blockers – stuck on the bench.

But the final 16 minutes of the game belonged to Payne, who is on a weeklong roll. Payne was averaging 12 points and shooting 84 percent (11 of 13) over his previous two games entering Wednesday.

Michigan State’s Gary Harris added 14 points, including 6 of 7 from the foul line.

 

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