University Park, PA (Sports Network) - Still searching for their first Big Ten Conference win of the season, the Penn State Nittany Lions give it another go as they entertain the 18th-ranked Michigan State Spartans on Wednesday night.
Michigan State has won three of its first four conference bouts, and 14 of its 17 games on the year. The Spartans recently posted a 66-56 win at home over Nebraska to move to 11-0 in East Lansing, but they know they are going to need to take care of business on the road if they're to have any shot at winning the Big Ten title. They are currently 2-2 in true road games.
Penn State has lost its first four Big Ten tilts to fall to an even 8-8 on the year. With the exception of a nine-point setback at Wisconsin in the league lidlifter, the team has lost each Big Ten bout by double figures, including a 60-42 shellacking at Purdue this past Sunday. The Nittany Lions are 7-3 at home this season, but they've lost their last two in Happy Valley (Indiana, Northwestern).
Michigan State owns a commanding 30-7 advantage in the all-time series with Penn State, which includes victories in 14 of the last 18 meetings.
Derrick Nix scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds, Adreian Payne added 14 points, Branden Dawson had 12, and Keith Appling handed out nine assists to help power Michigan State past Nebraska over the weekend. The Spartans shot 45.8 percent from the field, although they cooled off considerably in the second half (.375) after draining 54.2 percent in the opening period. They were just 4-of-13 from 3-point range, but held the Cornhuskers to 39.7 percent field goal efficiency, which included a 5-of-19 showing from beyond the arc. Appling (13.8 ppg, 4.6 apg) continues to pace the club in both scoring and assists, while Gary Harris (12.9 ppg) and Dawson (10.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg) round out the double-digit scorers for a MSU squad that averages 70.3 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .469 overall, .331 from long range and .703 from the foul line. Defensively, the Spartans permit just 57.7 ppg, with foes shooting 37.6 percent from the floor, which includes a 30.1 percent performance from downtown. Add a +8.3 rebounding differential to the equation and it's no wonder the Spartans are enjoying yet another successful campaign.
Penn State is coming off its worst offensive showing of the season, as the team put up a paltry 42 points in a double-digit loss at Purdue on Sunday. Brandon Taylor tallied 11 points in the setback, but he shot just 4-of-14 from the floor. Fortunately for him, three of his field goals came from beyond the arc. D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall were off the mark as well, combining to go just 6-of-25 from the floor for a total of 17 points. The team as a whole shot a miserable 25.9 percent from the floor, missing nine of its 12 3- point attempts along the way. With star Tim Frazier out for the season, Newbill (14.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg) has assumed the role of leading scorer, while Marshall (14.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) has done his part as well. Overall, the Lions are putting up just 61.4 ppg, but it's easy to see why when you consider their 38.9 percent field goal shooting, or the fact that they knock down a mere 28.5 percent of their long-range tries.