Penn State can't slay another giant

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Penn State can't slay another giant

BOX SCORE

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Tom Izzo sat Cassius Winston at the beginning of the second half, benching his point guard to send a message.

It seemed to work.

Miles Bridges had 23 points and Winston scored 12 of his 15 points after halftime and finished with 10 assists, helping No. 5 Michigan State come back from a double-digit deficit to beat Penn State 76-68 on Wednesday night.

The Spartans (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten) rallied to win after trailing by 12 with 15:23 left after coming back from 13-point deficit to win their previous game at Maryland.

"We've got to figure out a way to bring it from the beginning," said Winston, adding Izzo's move motivated him to play with more intensity.

Winston, who was replaced by Tum Tum Nairn at the start of the second half, made a go-ahead layup midway through the second half and Matt McQuaid made back to back 3s after not taking a shot for nearly 30 minutes.

"What breaks your back are the McQuaid 3s," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "You don't really count on him coming off the bench. I know he's only averaging a few points."

The Nittany Lions (15-9, 5-6) had won two straight, including a buzzer-beater at Ohio State, and didn't give up their winning streak easily after trailing by as much as 15 points. They went on an 11-2 run to pull within six points with 37 seconds left after Tony Carr made consecutive 3-pointers in 6 seconds. Carr just missed a 3-pointer with 19 seconds.

"We played really good basketball for a long time," Chambers said. "We got into foul trouble. ... I'd like to see our five versus their five for a longer time. I think Michigan State knows we're a pretty good basketball team and we'd fight."

Joshua Langford made two free throws to seal the victory and finished with 14 points.

Carr scored 28, giving him at least 25 points for the seventh time this season.

"One of the best players on the floor, for sure," Chambers said.

Quiet night
Michigan State freshman Jaren Jackson is projected to be one of the top picks in the NBA draft this summer, but foul trouble is limiting his production in college. Jackson was held to two points, ending an 11-game streak in double digits. He played just seven minutes in the first half because he had two fouls and picked up his third foul 1:06 into the second half, leading to him playing just 12 minutes.

Big picture
Penn State: Carr is showing he can make shots all over the court no matter who he's facing, but the Nittany Lions have to give him more help. Lamar Stevens, who had 18 points, was his only teammate in double figures. Entering the game, the Nittany Lions had five players averaging at least 10 points a game.

"We've got to get Shep (Garner) more shots," Chambers said. "I was trying to, but they played very good defense on him."

Carr had 28 points in last week's win at Ohio State and is averaging 19-plus points a game even though every team is trying to slow him down.

Michigan State: The crisis on campus related to Larry Nassar and an ESPN report isn't going away and the Spartans know it. Izzo wore a teal ribbon on the left lapel of his suit and his players wore the same ribbon over their hearts on their pullovers, honoring survivors of sexual violence.

"Wearing the ribbon was our way to reaching out to them," Izzo said .

Nassar, a former doctor at the school, has been sentenced to decades in prison for sexually abusing young girls and women. ESPN has detailed various allegations involving Michigan State football and basketball players, putting Izzo in awkward situations during postgame news conferences.

"I will cooperate with the investigation and I always have with any investigation," he said, repeating a scripted statement he has said after recent games. "I think there will be a time when I'll be able to speak, but it isn't right now. There's too many things going on with the survivors and everything. I'm just going to stick to my guns and tell you that I still have great support for the survivors, but I'm just not going to have any comment on this whole situation."

Up next
Penn State: Hosts Iowa on Saturday night.

Michigan State: Plays at Indiana on Saturday night, one of five road games in a seven-game stretch to close the regular season.

Penn State tops Utah to win NIT championship

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Penn State tops Utah to win NIT championship

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Flavor Flav had his red cap flipped backward as he pulled out his iPhone on the Madison Square Garden court. Flav held the camera steady and recorded cousin Shep Garner clip the final strands of the championship net and wave it toward the Penn State die-hards.

Flav's T-shirt at the NIT said it all for the Nittany Lions: Believe the hype!

Garner hit the 3-pointer that brought rapper and reality star Flavor Flav to his feet and helped send Penn State on its way to an NIT title in an 82-66 victory over Utah on Thursday night.

The fourth-seeded Nittany Lions (26-13) also knocked off No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the tournament en route to winning their first NIT title since 2009.

"This means the whole world to me right now ," Flavor Flav said.

They were pretty pumped in Happy Valley, too.

"I think we set the standard," Garner said. "We preach defense and rebounding, but now we have something we can always go to. We won something. We're champions."

Flavor Flav, member of the seminal `80s rap group Public Enemy, sang along to "Fight the Power" as it blasted in the Garden and had the PSU student section chanting "Flav! Flav! Flav!" as the Nittany Lions pulled away for a program-defining championship under coach Pat Chambers.

Lamar Stevens scored 28 points, Josh Reaves had 18 and Tony Carr had 15 points and 14 assists for Penn State.

Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center has a long-standing reputation as one of the dreariest arenas in college basketball. Penn State fans, from rappers to silver-haired alumni, packed the Garden all the way to the last row of the upper deck.

Penn State football coach James Franklin, who led the program to a Pinstripe Bowl victory in 2014, was in the house. Flavor Flav stole the show a few rows behind the PSU bench. Wearing a T-shirt that read "33 Shep Garner," Flavor Flav danced all night in his seat. Flavor Flav popped his T-shirt and raised the roof in the same arena where Public Enemy once tore down the house.

"I think we've proven to teams across the country that Penn State basketball is here to stay," Chambers said.

The clutch moment came in the third quarter when Garner -- who became Penn State's career 3-point leader in the tournament run -- hit a 3 for his first basket of the game and a 49-41 lead that had the fans going wild.

"To see my cousin break records, win trophies, all that, he deserves it," Flavor Flav said. "The whole team deserves it."

Reaves hit a crashing layup on a three-point play that stretched the lead to 11 and Stevens wagged his tongue toward the PSU fans on a jumper that helped blow open the game.

Flavor Flav raised an arm in the air when Garner sank a 3 early in the fourth for a 68-49 edge that all but put this one away.

The final minutes certainly put some flava in your ear -- half the MSG crowd chanted "We Are!" and the other half bellowed "Penn State!"

Yeah, boy!

Sedrick Barefield hit six 3s and scored 22 points for second-seeded Utah (23-12).

"You're always kind of watching the NIT and maybe you think of it as the consolation prize or whatever," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "They have no idea how cool this was for us."

Big picture
Utah: David Collette, Justin Bibbins and Tyler Rawson are among the seniors moving on. ... Bibbins scored 15 points.

Penn State: Stevens reached 1,000 career points was named most outstanding player. ... Chambers, a former assistant coach under Jay Wright at Villanova, took over in 2011 and has struggled to find any kind of regular success. The Nittany Lions have never made the NCAA Tournament under Chambers and they'll have just their second winning record in seven seasons. But Penn State's 26 wins are second-highest in program history. The Nittany Lions won a record 27 games in 2008-09.

Big crowd
The 11,175 fans at MSG were the most for an NIT final since 2005.

"And you say we're a football school," Chambers cracked.

Something different
The NIT was a bit of a mad scientist in the college basketball lab. The game featured four 10-minute quarters. The tournament also implemented the FIBA 3-point line (22 feet, 1.75 inches), NBA-width lane of 16 inches, and a 20-second shot clock following offensive rebounds.

Penn State dominates Mississippi State to reach NIT title game

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Penn State dominates Mississippi State to reach NIT title game

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Nearly a month after Penn State was bounced out of the Big Ten Tournament, the Nittany Lions are back at Madison Square Garden with another chance to win a championship.

Tony Carr scored 21 points, Shep Garner added 18 while breaking the school record for career 3-pointers and Penn State routed Mississippi State 75-60 in the National Invitation Tournament semifinals Tuesday night.

"Of course we were a little disappointed not to make the (NCAA) Tournament, but we made another goal," Garner said. "We saw we were in the NIT and our goal was to get to New York and win it. That's what everyone wants to do. We put ourselves in position to do so."

The fourth-seeded Nittany Lions (25-13) will play No. 2 seed Utah for the title Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

After the score was tied 9-all, Penn State ended the first quarter on a 9-2 run. From there, the Nittany Lions opened the second with a 19-0 spurt capped by Garner's 3 off an assist from Carr to make it 37-11.

With football coach James Franklin cheering from the stands, Penn State went up 42-23 at halftime and led by as many as 27.

Mississippi State (25-12) wasn't able to get within 20 again until there was 7:56 left in the game. Abdul Ado's dunk made it 65-47, but that was the closest the Bulldogs got before the waning moments.

"We were really impatient," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. "Once we started falling behind, we got anxious and we were shooting quick. Quick, bad shots and it just like, snowballed."

Tyson Carter scored 19 points off the bench to lead No. 4 seed Mississippi State. Ado had 13 points and seven rebounds.

Lamar Stevens scored 17 for Penn State, which shot 11 of 20 from 3-point territory. Carr had six assists and five rebounds.

Big picture
Penn State: While the Nittany Lions would have preferred to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011, they made the NIT for the first time under seventh-year coach Pat Chambers. Penn State's last trip to the NIT title game was in 2009, when it beat Baylor for the crown. The school's only other appearance in the final was a loss to Minnesota in 1998.

Mississippi State: With just one senior on the roster, the Bulldogs will return most of their team and have something positive to build off as they try to move up the rankings in the rugged SEC next season.

Record producer
With his six 3-pointers, Garner broke Penn State's record for 3s in an NIT along with the school mark of 332 held by Pete Lisicky (1995-98). Garner also had six 3s in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal loss to Purdue, giving him 12 in his last two games at Madison Square Garden and 334 for his career.

"They say the record is an individual record, but I've had a lot of teammates that had a lot to do with the record," Garner said. "A lot of people that set screens for me to get me open, break passes to them, they put it right on the button for me and I just finish the job. That's a team record. It's a lot of people that had stuff to do with it. I tip my hat to my teammates and my coaches to put me in a position to do something special like that."

Up next
Penn State: Will try to win the second NIT championship in school history when it faces Utah (23-11), which beat Western Kentucky 69-64 in the first semifinal.

Mississippi State: Starts preparing for a promising 2018-19 season.