Penn State earned one of the college basketball season’s more surprising upsets on Tuesday night with a 75-69 Big Ten home win over No. 6 Michigan.
Only 1-11 in league play entering this game, Penn State built up a sizable first-half lead against a sluggish Michigan before Wolverines head coach John Beilein was ejected at the end of the half.
Beilein appeared to take issue with a non-call right before halftime. With Penn State on offense, Michigan guard Zavier Simpson attempted to fight through a screen and fell to the ground after hitting a Penn State screener, contributing to Nittany Lion guard Rasir Bolton scoring at the rim.
With Beilin receiving a double technical and getting ejected, Penn State took a 40-27 lead into the break with the added benefit of four free throws to start the second half (three were made).
Although Michigan rallied in the final two minutes to make things interesting — cutting the game to four multiple times in the final minute — the Wolverines never had the momentum to overcome to first-half deficit. Lamar Stevens paced Penn State with 26 points and 12 rebounds while freshman guard Myles Dread had 17 points for the Nittany Lions.
Outside of Charles Matthews (24 points) and Jordan Poole (17 points), the Michigan offense struggled to find someone else to step up. It also didn’t help that Simpson was a woeful 2-for-9 from the floor with eight points and six turnovers. Michigan’s defense was also shaky during stretches of this one as this was a puzzling game at times on both ends.
Playing without Beilein during the second half, it was a strange night for the Wolverines. Normally, a coach like him wouldn’t get tossed in a situation to end the first half in a game that meant more.
But the loss still happened. And, for the moment, it’s only a Quadrant 1 loss, so it won’t even look that bad for Michigan’s NCAA tournament purposes. As long as Michigan is able to overcome a difficult stretch the next few weeks, this won’t mean anything.
With two games left against Maryland, and two more against rival Michigan State, the Wolverines have to shake this loss off quickly if they want to stay in the Big Ten race.