No. 7 Penn State at No. 24 Michigan State: Hurting heading into bad-blood battle

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

No. 7 Penn State at No. 24 Michigan State: Hurting heading into bad-blood battle

No. 7 Penn State (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) at No. 24 Michigan State (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Michigan
Saturday, 12 p.m., FOX

No. 7 Penn State attempts to bounce back from a crushing loss at Ohio State with a visit to No. 24 Michigan State.

Scouting Penn State
The seventh-ranked Nittany Lions frittered away a 15-point fourth-quarter lead in a 39-38 loss to Ohio State last Saturday, dealing a severe blow to their hopes for a Big Ten championship repeat and/or a berth in the College Football Playoff. Saquon Barkley ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown and also scored on a 36-yard run, but his other 20 carries netted eight yards. He continues to lead the nation in all-purpose yards per game (206.3). He is also fourth in kickoff-return average (34.4) and fifth in scoring (84 points). McSorley has clicked on 65.9 percent of his throws, for 2,071 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has been intercepted five times. Jason Cabinda has 59 tackles to lead the defense, but the Lions had no answers for Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett in last week’s fourth quarter.

Scouting Michigan State
The 24th-ranked Spartans fell, 39-31, in triple overtime at Northwestern last week, despite a 445-yard, four-touchdown passing day from quarterback Brian Lewerke. Two of his TD throws went to Cody White, who caught nine balls for 165 yards in all. White has just 20 catches this season, however, and is third on the team behind Darrell Stewart (35-362-1) and Felton Davis (33-405-7). Running back LJ Scott has rushed for 511 yards (4.5 per carry). MSU leads the conference and is fourth in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 89.8 yards a game. The Spartans are also eighth in the country in total defense (283.4). Linebacker Joe Bachie has 73 tackles, and defensive end Kenny Willekes has contributed four sacks and 8½ tackles for loss.

History
PSU won last year’s meeting, 45-12, to even the all-time series at 15-15-1.

Storyline to watch
The Lions lost offensive tackle Ryan Bates and defensive end Ryan Buchholz to leg injuries against the Buckeyes. That appeared to greatly affect the team late in the game, when it could neither block OSU nor mount a significant pass rush. Coach James Franklin does not address injuries, but it seems unlikely either will play this week.

What's at stake
The teams have exchanged blowouts the last two years. At the end of the 2015 game, Spartans coach Mark Dantonio gave his center a carry, and he rumbled for a touchdown. At the end of last year’s game, the Lions still had their starters in, and were still throwing. So, yes, there would appear to be some bad blood.

Prediction
If you can’t block anyone and can’t mount a pass rush, how do you win?

Michigan State 27, Penn State 24

This one truly hurts for Penn State

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USA Today Images

This one truly hurts for Penn State

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- John Beilein has always coveted the type of player with near-limitless energy reserve who can provide a scoring spark off the bench.

Michigan's coach has found his man this year.

Duncan Robinson supported No. 17 Michigan's starters with 19 points and helped the Wolverines beat Penn State 72-63 on Wednesday night.

"I've loved always having this, whether I was at Richmond, West Virginia, Canisius, the guy that can come off the bench with no conscience," Beilein said. "It's very hard to sit there for 10 minutes and then just go in and shoot. And he can do that."

Moritz Wagner added 18 and Jordan Poole had 13 for the Wolverines (23-7, 12-5 Big Ten) who won their fourth straight.

It got easier for the Wolverines just four minutes in when star Penn State forward Mike Watkins crumpled under Penn State's basket with an apparent right leg injury.

"That certainly was a factor in the game as well," Beilein said.

Tony Carr scored 21 points and Lamar Stevens added 19 for the Nittany Lions (19-11, 9-8) who trailed for all but about four minutes.

Michigan took control with a 25-12 run midway through the first and Robinson made Michigan's fifth of 10 3-pointers to put the Wolverines up by 13, their biggest lead of the game, with 3:52 left in the opening half. Back-to-back jumpers from Stevens cut Michigan's halftime lead to 34-26.

The Nittany Lions opened the second with a 13-4 run and took a 39-38 lead when Carr rolled a floater off his fingertips, drew a foul and made the free throw with 16:12 left.

"At halftime, we knew we didn't play well," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We were dealing with some adversity and I thought our guys competed and played hard, to come out and take the lead."

But the Wolverines went ahead for good on Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman's 3-pointer with 10:19 left. Michigan players combined to go 9-for-10 from the free throw line in the final minute to close out the game.

Watkins hurt
Watkins appeared to be in a good amount of discomfort as he was helped off the court.

Afterward, the forward spent a few minutes on a courtside exercise bike before returning to the bench with 9:28 to play. He lobbied Chambers to let him re-enter the game, but was clearly hobbled before Chambers pulled him out for good moments later.

Visibly upset, Watkins covered his face with a towel then entered the locker room before the half ended.

Chambers said he didn't have an update on Watkins other than the team would wait for test results on his right leg to come back later this week.

It was the second straight game -- and second straight loss -- where Watkins' presence was sorely missed. He found himself in early foul trouble against Purdue and played just nine minutes in Penn State's 76-73 loss.

"It's tough. They're a team that shoots a bunch of 3s. We weren't surprised that they shot the ball well."

Defending the 3
The Wolverines entered the game having made 264 3-pointers, good for second in the conference. They dropped 10 more on the Nittany Lions including a pair of back-to-back shots from Wagner that broke up Penn State's early second-half run.

They were big considering Beilein felt like his squad was squandering most of its chances early in the second.

"They just happened," Beilein said. "He got open, luckily, and he made them both and all of a sudden it's a 1-point game and we're still playing."

Robinson was 3-for-6 and hit the final 3-pointer to give the Wolverines' a 9-point lead with 1:28 left. Wagner was 4-for-5 from 3-point range while Poole added a pair.

"When you give up 10 3s to Michigan, It's going to be a tough outing for sure," Chambers said.

The big picture
Michigan: The Wolverines are guaranteed to be seeded no worse than fifth in the Big Ten tournament with the win. They'll have a chance to improve that as the teams above them in the standings No. 9 Purdue and Nebraska still have games remaining.

Penn State: With a 3-point loss to Purdue in their last game, the Nittany Lions badly needed this one for their NCAA tournament resume. Watkins will be nearly impossible for Penn State to replace if it has to move on without him. The 6-foot-9 forward is third in the country shooting 69.2 percent from the field. He has 13 double-doubles on the season and leads the team with 68 blocks and 258 rebounds. The players who would likely replace his minutes --Julian Moore and Satchel Pierce -- have averaged just 10 and eight minutes per game respectively.

Up next
Michigan visits Maryland on Saturday.

Penn State travels to Nebraska on Sunday.

Penn State can't keep streak alive against No. 6 Purdue

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AP Images

Penn State can't keep streak alive against No. 6 Purdue

BOX SCORE 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Carsen Edwards scored 27 points to lead sixth-ranked Purdue to a 76-73 victory over Penn State on Sunday night.

Dakota Mathias added 18 points and Isaac Haas had 12 points and six rebounds for the Boilermakers (24-5, 13-3 Big Ten), who snapped a season-worst three-game skid.

Tony Carr had 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, Shep Garner had 17 points and Lamar Stevens had 13 points and six rebounds for the Nittany Lions (19-10, 9-7). The loss ended a stretch of six wins in seven games.

Ryan Cline's 3-pointer with 5:31 remaining gave Purdue a 61-58 lead, and the Boilers never trailed the rest of the way.

It wasn't easy for a Purdue team in search of the same offensive flair that made the Boilermakers unbeatable during a program-record 19-game winning streak that stretched from November until a 64-63 loss to Ohio State on Feb. 7. It became more difficult without starting forward Vincent Edwards, one of the team's most consistent players.

Vincent Edwards sat on the bench wearing a walking boot after spraining his left ankle in practice on Saturday. The team disclosed the injury in a statement before tipoff.

It was another uncharacteristic game for the Boilermakers. They trailed by as much nine points in the first half, during which they shot 42.3 percent from the field and went 2 for 9 from 3-point range.

Penn State led 36-32 at halftime.

Big picture 
Penn State: Despite another poor offensive night by Purdue, the Nittany Lions proved their recent hot streak, which included a 79-56 blowout of No. 8 Ohio State, may not have been a fluke. Even after the Boilermakers found a groove in the second half, Penn State still never trailed by more than 11 points.

Purdue: After dropping three straight conference games and falling in the Big Ten standings, the Boilermakers needed to get back on track quickly with just two regular season games remaining.

Up next 
Penn State: The Nittany Lions host Michigan on Wednesday.

Purdue: The Boilermakers are at Illinois on Thursday.