No. 5 Michigan State overcomes deficit and holds off Penn State, 76-68
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Tom Izzo sat Cassius Winston at the beginning of the second half, benching his point guard to send a message.
It seemed to work.
Miles Bridges had 23 points and Winston scored 12 of his 15 points after halftime and finished with 10 assists, helping No. 5 Michigan State come back from a double-digit deficit to beat Penn State 76-68 on Wednesday night.
The Spartans (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten) rallied to win after trailing by 12 with 15:23 left after coming back from 13-point deficit to win their previous game at Maryland.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to bring it from the beginning,” said Winston, adding Izzo’s move motivated him to play with more intensity.
Winston, who was replaced by Tum Tum Nairn at the start of the second half, made a go-ahead layup midway through the second half and Matt McQuaid made back to back 3s after not taking a shot for nearly 30 minutes.
“What breaks your back are the McQuaid 3s,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “You don’t really count on him coming off the bench. I know he’s only averaging a few points.”
The Nittany Lions (15-9, 5-6) had won two straight, including a buzzer-beater at Ohio State, and didn’t give up their winning streak easily after trailing by as much as 15 points. They went on an 11-2 run to pull within six points with 37 seconds left after Tony Carr made consecutive 3-pointers in 6 seconds. Carr just missed a 3-pointer with 19 seconds.
“We played really good basketball for a long time,” Chambers said. “We got into foul trouble. … I’d like to see our five versus their five for a longer time. I think Michigan State knows we’re a pretty good basketball team and we’d fight.”
Joshua Langford made two free throws to seal the victory and finished with 14 points.
Carr scored 28, giving him at least 25 points for the seventh time this season.
“One of the best players on the floor, for sure,” Chambers said.
Michigan State freshman Jaren Jackson is projected to be one of the top picks in the NBA draft this summer, but foul trouble is limiting his production in college. Jackson was held to two points, ending an 11-game streak in double digits. He played just seven minutes in the first half because he had two fouls and picked up his third foul 1:06 into the second half, leading to him playing just 12 minutes.
Penn State: Carr is showing he can make shots all over the court no matter who he’s facing, but the Nittany Lions have to give him more help. Lamar Stevens, who had 18 points, was his only teammate in double figures. Entering the game, the Nittany Lions had five players averaging at least 10 points a game.
“We’ve got to get Shep (Garner) more shots,” Chambers said. “I was trying to, but they played very good defense on him.”
Carr had 28 points in last week’s win at Ohio State and is averaging 19-plus points a game even though every team is trying to slow him down.
Michigan State: The crisis on campus related to Larry Nassar and an ESPN report isn’t going away and the Spartans know it. Izzo wore a teal ribbon on the left lapel of his suit and his players wore the same ribbon over their hearts on their pullovers, honoring survivors of sexual violence.
“Wearing the ribbon was our way to reaching out to them,” Izzo said .
Nassar, a former doctor at the school, has been sentenced to decades in prison for sexually abusing young girls and women. ESPN has detailed various allegations involving Michigan State football and basketball players, putting Izzo in awkward situations during postgame news conferences.
“I will cooperate with the investigation and I always have with any investigation,” he said, repeating a scripted statement he has said after recent games. “I think there will be a time when I’ll be able to speak, but it isn’t right now. There’s too many things going on with the survivors and everything. I’m just going to stick to my guns and tell you that I still have great support for the survivors, but I’m just not going to have any comment on this whole situation.”
Penn State: Hosts Iowa on Saturday night.
Michigan State: Plays at Indiana on Saturday night, one of five road games in a seven-game stretch to close the regular season.