Michigan State blew a 12-point lead, and trailed by four late, but managed to come back and hold on for a 60-58 win over Penn State on Tuesday night.
It looked for a while that the Spartans had shown up and were ready to play a complete game, leading most of the way in the first half and taking an eight-point lead into the locker room. That lead was stretched to 12 early in the second half, before Penn State came roaring back on a 17-5 run to tie it up.
The game went back-and-forth the rest of the way, but it looked like things might be slipping away from the Spartans when PSU went up four with a little over three minutes left to play. But Michigan State finished the game on a 6-0 run and held the Nittany Lions without a point in the last 3:16 to squeak out the win.
Aaron Henry led the way for MSU again with 20 points and added four rebounds and three assists. Henry was the answer most of the night when the Spartans were in desperate need of a basket.
Joey Hauser came off the bench tonight and had a great first half scoring nine points, and making four shots in six attempts in 11 minutes. He finished the game with 11 points.
Malik Hall got the start in Hauser’s place and had a very solid game with 10 points and five rebounds. He had some very tough baskets down around the rim and got to the foul line a team-high seven times.
Marcus Bingham Jr. continued his stretch of solid play with another good night. Bingham chipped in six points and had a team-high nine rebounds, and added a block and a steal on the defensive end. Bingham and Hall have added a much needed toughness to the MSU front court the last few games.
It was a pretty solid defensive effort overall from the Spartans, who held Penn State to 34.5 percent shooting overall and just 5-of-23 from behind the arc. John Harrar was an issue down low with a team high 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Nittany Lions.
Despite the fact that the Spartans saw yet another second half double-digit lead evaporate, they did manage to get out of this one with the win. While Penn State’s record is not good, the Lions were a top-30 Kenpom team coming into this game, so if you want to look on the bright side of life, there you go.
The other good news in the game was that Joshua Langford got to the 1,000 point mark for his career. That has to feel good for Langford considering all he has gone through in his time in East Lansing. Great to see him eclipse that mark and hopefully there is more to come.
The win moves MSU to 4-7 in conference play and 10-7 overall, with a lot of work yet to do. But, for the time being, the bubble has not yet burst. The Spartans have Iowa at home this weekend, and they played the Hawkeyes tough last time out, so maybe this is a right place, right time situation for MSU to grab a big upset.
Until then, it’s a winning streak, so there’s always that.