for this game

Michigan State forced to squeak out win at Penn State

Jan 15, 2009 - 6:17 AM STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania (Ticker) -- Raymar Morgan and Michigan State did not let the student body have another chance to rush the floor.

Morgan scored 17 points as No. 10 Michigan State ran its winning streak to 10 games with a 78-73 victory over Penn State in the Big Ten on Wednesday.

Kalin Lucas had 15 points and Goran Suton scored 13 and pulled down 14 rebounds for the Spartans (14-2, 4-0 Big Ten), who captured their 10th straight win.

"Any win you get on the road, you take it," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I thought we played 30-some minutes of real good basketball, but we had some letdowns but it was mostly we just couldn't contain the dribble penetration. It was frustrating a little bit."

The Spartans only split the series with the Nittany Lions last season, losing here as the 20th team in the nation by an 85-76 score. It was an upset that the Penn State student body celebrated by rushing the court.

"This year they're a lot better," Izzo said of Penn State. "So was I looking forward to coming back? Not really. But at the same time, we have great respect for Ed (DeChellis) and the players. So it's not a grudge thing to try and get them back. They beat us last year and it hurt and I think it cost us a lot."

After dealing with a big run by Penn State in the first half, Michigan State began to pull away, surging ahead by 17 points at 56-39 when Durrell Summers split two free throws with 13:39 remaining.

However, the Nittany Lions (13-5, 2-3) charged back, putting together a 13-2 run to close within a point.

Talor Battle, who finished with 20 points before fouling out in the final 15 seconds, hit one of his three 3-pointers to slice the deficit to 71-70 with 1:27 left.

"It's a game we had a chance to win," DeChellis said. "We think we can win every game here at home. It's important to protect your home court. Every game is important for us. Every game is an opportunity."

Lucas then converted two free throws on the ensuing possession, and the Spartans sank 7-of-10 at the line down the stretch to avoid the upset.

"To Kalin Lucas' credit, he made some big free throws," Izzo said. "We had a lot of guys who stepped up."

The run even surprised Izzo, who was left without an explanation afterwards.

"I didn't know how the second half went," he said. "It wasn't like we shot real bad. It wasn't like we shot great but fouls, fouls and fouls. We're going to have to work on that, but I'm actually proud of my team."

Penn State was down, 75-72, with 27 seconds left when Battle had the ball knocked away by Suton attempting to split a double-team. Summers picked up the loose ball and was fouled by Battle, his fifth and final foul.

"I believe and my coaches and my teammates thought he (Suton) fouled me," Battle said. "He kind of stuck his leg out but the refs can't call everything and we can't really rely on that so at the end of the day it was a bad play by me and it cost my team and maybe I shouldn't have tried to split the defense but I was just in the heat of the moment I felt like I got fouled and that was the goal."

"We had a timeout, we had twenty-some seconds, we were going to put the ball in Talor's hands and see if he could make a play and if it didn't happen we were going to use it and set something up," DeChellis said. "He's the best point guard in the league and I want to put the ball in his hands."

Michigan State ended up 18-of-27 at the line and finished with a 41-24 rebounding advantage.

Jamelle Cornley scored 26 points for Penn State, which dropped its second straight game against a ranked foe.

Losing big at No. 19 Minnesota, 79-59, on Sunday, the Nittany Lions appeared in line for another lopsided loss as the Spartans scored the first eight points of the contest.

Yet, Penn State put together a 17-4 run to grab a 22-16 lead with 11:12 remaining. Michigan State answered with an 11-1 burst, taking a 27-23 edge nearly four minutes later.

The Spartans also went on a 15-2 run down the stretch en route to taking a 42-29 lead at intermission. Morgan had 10 points in the opening half while Lucas and Chris Allen added seven each.

"We fooled you and we fooled ourselves," Izzo said. "It's the kind of game I thought it would be, but with the way it started out, I thought we could make a real run and to their credit they fought back."