Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 9, 2017
WASHINGTON — Michigan State arrived in Washington, D.C., for the Big Ten tourney meaning business after an inconsistent regular season. And the No. 5 Spartans delivered with a workmanlike defeat of No. 13 Penn State, drilling the Nittany Lions 78-51.
Any mojo PSU had coming off a win vs. Nebraska on Wednesday in the opening night of tourney action quickly was squashed by MSU, which like Penn State has a roster populated by many good freshmen.
The Spartans are looking to capture their sixth Big Ten Tournament championship, as they are the only Big Ten team with five tournament titles. In 19 previous years of the Big Ten Tournament, MSU has a record of 27-14. The Spartans won the tournament in 1999, 2000, 2012, 2014 and 2016, and lost in the quarterfinals in 1998, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2010. MSU lost in the semifinals in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013, and dropped the 2015 title game in overtime. Michigan State will battle No. 4 Minnesota on Friday. The Spartans swept the Golden Gophers this season.
Top star: Miles Bridges, Michigan State. The high-flyer played a good all-around game, tallying 15 points, on 6-of-11 shooting, with nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Also have to mention big man Nick Ward, who also had 15 points in hitting 5-of-8 shots with nine boards and two blocks. Both are freshman phenoms.
Top stat: 44, rebounds for Michigan State, compared to just 29 for Penn State. Bridges and Ward each had nine boards for the Spartans, and Kenny Goins had eight off the bench. MSU was too physical and tough for Penn State.
Top dunk: In the first half, Michigan State?s Cassius Winston lobbed a perfect alley-oop pass to fellow freshman Miles Bridges, who almost tore down the rim with a two-handed stuff. Bridges also had this dynamite dunk.
It was over when: Penn State got off the bus. Michigan State established control early and never relented against an overmatched Nittany Lions squad, taking a 45-27 halftime edge and cruising. Tom Izzo wanted this one after his Spartans lost vs. Penn State, 72-63, playing in the venerable Palestra on Jan. 7. It was the lone meeting in the season between the teams.
Did you see that? In a moment Michigan State?s Alvin Ellis is going to want to forget, the senior guard soared for a one-handed jam off the baseline ? but got stuffed by the rim, as he didn?t rise high enough to throw down the jam.
- Penn State is 12-20 all-time in the Big Ten tourney.
- Michigan State was 0-2 vs. Penn State in the Big Ten tourney prior to today.
- MSU has won three of the last five Big Ten Tournaments and has advanced to the title game in four of the last five years.
- This is the third time Michigan State has been the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, and the first time since 2003. In 2002, MSU fell to No. 4 seed Indiana. One year later, the Spartans defeated No. 4 Purdue before falling to No. 8 Ohio State.