for this game

Battle leads Penn State to historic upset of Michigan State

Feb 2, 2009 - 12:25 AM EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- Talor Battle and Penn State finally found a way to win in East Lansing. In doing so, the Nittany Lions continued their surprising climb in the Big Ten standings.

Battle scored a career-high 29 points Sunday afternoon, leading Penn State to a historic 72-68 upset of ninth-ranked Michigan State.

Jamelle Cornley added 16 points for the Nittany Lions (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten), who won for the first time in 17 trips to East Lansing.

"I guess we made history, huh?" Battle said. "Coach mentioned that we hadn't won here. But I wasn't on those other Penn State teams. This is the '08-09 team. And we weren't going to lose by 37 like last year."

The Nittany Lions have won their last four Big Ten games, the school's longest conference winning streak since the 1995-96 season.

Since losing three of their first four league games, including a heartbreaking five-point home loss to the Spartans (17-4, 7-2), they have climbed into a third-place tie with Minnesota (18-3, 6-3) in the Big Ten.

It was the second consecutive home loss for the Spartans, who also dropped a 70-63 decision to perennial Big Ten doormat Northwestern on January 21.

Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas scored 23 points but missed a key free throw with 12 seconds remaining that would have forged a 69-69 tie.

"You win at home because you work," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "You don't win at home because you're supposed to. It's an entitlement society, and I think our players kind of feel that way."

The matinee contest did not start well for Penn State, which faced an early 13-point deficit and appeared headed to its 19th loss in its last 21 meetings with Michigan State.

But the Nittany Lions ended the first half on a 22-8 run capped by Battle's long 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining that gave Penn State a 38-37 halftime lead.

"I have a group of kids who love to compete and this is just the next game," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "It's no more important than Thursday's game when we play Michigan. Our kids have done a good job of taking one thing at a time.

"Our kids believe that they are as good as anybody in this league and they feel they are an NCAA Tournament team if they come in and play the way they did today."

Battle scored 18 points in the opening 20 minutes, going 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in that span. The sophomore finished 11-of-19 from the floor and 6-of-12 from 3-point range, although he missed two potential clinching free throws in the final minute.

"(Battle) is a big-game player; he loves this atmosphere," DeChellis said. "He wanted the ball and he got it going a little bit and we kept letting him have the ball. I thought he had a great first half and I thought that he controlled the game in the second half as well, though he didn't score as much."

Penn State led by as many as 12 in the second half before Michigan State reeled off a furious 11-1 run to pull within 69-67 with 30 seconds left. Battle missed two free throws that would have given the Nittany Lions a four-point cushion with 28 seconds left.

After hauling in an offensive rebound on the ensuing possession, Lucas was fouled with 12 seconds left. The sophomore sank the first free throw but missed the second, keeping the Spartans' deficit at 69-68.

Andrew Jones III made one of two free throws with 11 seconds left, pushing Penn State's lead to 70-68. Lucas missed a running jumper with five seconds remaining, and Jones sank two free throws to provide the final margin.

Jones finished with 12 points and nine rebounds while Stanley Pringle added 10 points for Penn State, which beat a ranked opponent on the road for the first time since a 66-65 upset at then-No. 6 Illinois on February 4, 2006.

Durrell Summers and reserve Chris Allen each scored 11 points for the Spartans, who shot just 5-of-20 from beyond the arc.

"(Penn State) shot very, very well here," Izzo said. "Maybe a little bit of the mystique is gone, and that's something that our team is going to have to get back."

Michigan State was without second-leading scorer Raymar Morgan, who was sidelined by a viral infection.