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Penn State snaps slide with upset of Michigan State

Feb 3, 2008 - 7:03 AM STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania (Ticker) -- Stanley Pringle and freshman Talor Battle combined to lead Penn State to an unlikely victory.

Pringle scored 19 points and Battle added 17 to lead Penn State to an 85-76 victory over No. 7 Michigan State on Saturday night in a Big Ten Conference matchup.

Penn State (11-10, 3-6 Big Ten) had lost six straight games entering the matchup with Michigan State, including the last five coming by double digits. Since leading scorer Geary Claxton was lost for the season with a torn ACL, the Nittany Lions had averaged 53.0 points in their last four games.

The Nittany Lions were able to make up for the absence of Claxton thanks to Pringle, Battle and free throws. Penn State was 34-of-51 from the line but closed by making 16 of its last 20 to snap its losing skid.

"It feels like a million dollars," Battle said. "It's just one of those feelings that you can talk about forever. When you are done playing the game and everyone storms the court and are holding people up."

Jamelle Cornley, Mike Walker and Pringle combined to make five free throws to snap a 69-69 tie and give Penn State the lead with 3:17 to play.

"It means a lot," Pringle said. "We have been practicing our free throws every day in practice and they have been telling us that it is mental. But it feels good."

The Spartans (19-3, 7-2) had won five straight games, including a 51-41 victory over Illinois on Wednesday, in posting the best 21-game start in the school's 109-year history.

"It was a great win for our kids. We have had some crazy things happen and our kids hung in there and fought and made some plays tonight and made some free throws when we had to," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "Hopefully we got a little confidence back and you know, it was great for our fans and for our students.

"The students were tremendous. People came out even though we lost a bunch in a row. Our kids laid it on the line and we were able to win a game. So I am very happy for our players and the fans."

That momentum was stalled by Penn State as Michigan State was matched on the boards, 31-31, and shot just 2-of-14 from the arc.

"I think that when you lose at Penn State and at Iowa you have to look at the coaching staff and figure that we must not have gotten our guys ready to play," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I felt that defensively we were out of it from the beginning. We gave up a lot of points. It was one of those nights that the shots were not going in. You have to give Coach DeChellis just a ton of credit."

Freshman Kalin Lucas scored 18 points off the bench for the Spartans, but senior guard Drew Neitzel was held in check and finished with six points on 2-of-10 shooting.

"I felt he had some shots and a couple of threes with no one near him. I thought Penn State did a good job on him," Izzo said. "They did better than we did with any of their shooters. We were three feet, four feet behind some of those guys as they were hitting threes. We had a lot of guys that didn't play well. I don't know if it is something we did, or something they did. I thought Neitzel had some good shots, but I think they did a very good job defensively."

Goran Suton scored 13 points and Raymar Morgan added 11 for Michigan State, which is the first ranked team Penn State has beaten since the Nittany Lions won at Illinois two years ago.