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No. 6 Michigan State beats Penn State 88-57 after slow start

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Tom Izzo has been telling his players when they’re not making shots that defense and rebounding can win games, especially in the NCAA Tournament.

No. 6 Michigan State showed that against Penn State on Sunday.

Denzel Valentine started slow and finished strong with 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help the sixth-ranked Spartans beat the Nittany Lions 88-57.

Valentine missed his first six shots as Michigan State was off to a 3-of-15 shooting start.

“Our defense and rebounding kept us in the game and that’s the way we have to win as we move forward,” Izzo said. “It makes me feel like they’re listening.”

The Spartans (24-5, 11-5 Big Ten) have won four straight and eight of nine, outscoring teams by 21-plus points in those victories and losing only to then-No. 18 Purdue by one point in overtime on the road during the stretch.

“I think we’ve got a chance to make a run,” Izzo said.

Penn State had been on a relatively successful run recently.

The Nittany Lions (15-14, 6-10) had won three straight and four of five, including victories over then-No. 4 Iowa and then-No. 22 Indiana.

“We were hopeful to put up a fight at least,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “And, we didn’t do that.”

Chambers did his part by being feisty.

He was ejected with 4:53 left in the first half when he was called for two technical fouls within the same rant. Chambers had to be held back by his coaching staff, two assistants at one point, as he tried to charge toward officials more than once before leaving the court. After Chambers was ejected, he started to gather his team for some parting thoughts before he tried to go back at the officials.

“We’re trying to buck the system of being the brunt of everybody’s jokes,” Chambers said. “So we’re going to fight, players are going to fight.”

After the Spartans’ miss-filled start, they connected on 14 of 18 shots.

“We played hard with energy and effort,” Valentine said.

Despite making just 37 percent in the second half, they easily maintained their comfortable cushion.

“Michigan State is playing at an incredible level,” Chambers said.

Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis and Bryn Forbes scored 15 points each and Matt Costello had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Shep Garner had 22 points and Devin Foster scored 11 for the Nittany Lions during a game in which their respect for Chambers grew.

“I love it when Coach comes out and battles for us,” Garner said. “That’s what he does. He puts his neck on the line.”

TIP INS

Penn State: Brandon Taylor entered the game as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. He fouled out with 7:20 left in the game with as many fouls as he had combined points (2) and rebounds (3). The 6-foot-6 senior forward, who shared Big Ten player of the week honors on Monday, was averaging 16.6 points and 6.6 rebounds. Taylor had scored in double digits the previous 16 games, including 24- and 18-point outputs against the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes. … While Chambers was kept away from the court in the second half, one of his assistants was called for a technical foul.

Michigan State: Valentine, a national player of the year candidate, has a chance to become the first player in at least three decades to average 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. He entered the game averaging nearly 20 points, seven-plus rebounds and more than seven assists per game. The NCAA began keeping assists as an official statistic during the 1983-84 season.

UP NEXT

Penn State hosts Northwestern on Thursday.

Michigan State plays at Rutgers on Wednesday.

Online:

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Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage and follow his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/larry-lage

Penn State guard Reaves sidelined with mononucleosis

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Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers announced Friday morning that freshman guard Josh Reaves will miss multiple games after being diagnosed with mononucleosis. Reaves has played in 17 of Penn State’s 18 games, averaging 6.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 24.5 minutes of action per contest.

Reaves made 14 starts in those 17 games, and with him out of the rotation the Nittany Lions take a hit on the perimeter. Devin Foster, who has come off the bench in all 18 games and is averaging 18.7 minutes per contest, is one player whose playing time is likely to increase with Reaves being sidelined.

Junior Shep Garner currently leads the team in minutes with an average of 34.6 per night. Penn State, which is 1-4 in Big Ten play and 10-8 overall, will visit Northwestern Saturday afternoon.

Penn State gets commitment from 2015 guard Josh Reaves

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Penn State head coach Pat Chambers gets his third commitment in his Class of 2015, the second ranked in the Rivals 150, in Oak Hill Academy (Virginia) shooting guard Josh Reaves, who announced the news via Twitter on Tuesday night.

“I am truly blessed to announce that I have committed to Penn State University,” he tweeted.

The 6-foot-4 rising senior, ranked No. 119 overall in the Class of 2015, held offers from Boston College, Georgetown, Maryland, Temple, Villanova and VCU. He joins Deividas Zemgulis, a three-star small forward who committed to the Nittany Lions two months ago, and center Mike Watkins, ranked No. 114 by Rivals.

On the grassroots circuit, Reaves, who played his junior year at Paul VI Catholic High (Virginia) is playing for Team Takeover (D.C.) in the Nike EYBL. At 9-7, Team Takeover qualified for the Peach Jam on July 16-20 during the live recruiting period. Reaves is third on the team in scoring at 10.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.

Wisconsin holds off Penn State, 71-66, for seventh straight win

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For another year, Wisconsin will finish Big Ten play as one of the top four teams in the conference standings.

That became a certainty on Sunday afternoon when No. 14 Wisconsin held off a late comeback from Penn State, defeating the Nittany Lions on the road with a 71-66 final, giving the Badgers their seventh consecutive victory and putting them in a tie for second place with No. 18 Michigan State.

The Badgers have had difficulty guarding the perimeter this season, and that was apparent against the the Penn State back court. Tim Frazier was plagued with three first half fouls, but D.J. Newbill was able to carry the load, scoring a game-high 23 points, attack the basket for layups, or at the very least second-chance opportunities. Frazier cracked double figures with under 20 seconds to play with back-to-back buckets in the paint, the first of which cut the lead to two, 68-66, with 18 seconds to play. Though Wisconsin was able to counter with free throw shooting — 5-of-6 from the line — down the stretch.

The Wisconsin frontline got a combined 16 points from Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, but just like its opponent’s guards, the Wisconsin back court stepped up on Sunday afternoon. Penn State had continually threatened in the second half, but more times than not, Ben Brust would respond with a bucket to respond. He scored 11 of his 14 after halftime while Traevon Jackson connected on four free throws to ice the win.

While Wisconsin didn’t get the same offensive production from its front court and also allowed the Nittany Lions to consistently get to the basket, the Badgers were able to leave with a win by taking care of the basketball — eight turnovers (four in each half) — and moving the ball on offense — assisting on 15 of 22 field goals made. They were also aided by Penn State’s 1-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc.

Wisconsin hosts its final regular season home game of the season on Wednesday before heading to Nebraska on Sunday, a game in which the Cornhuskers can pad their tournament resume.

Penn State to return to its old home on December 14

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Currently the Penn State basketball program plays its home games at the Bryce Jordan Center, an on-campus facility that seats more than 15,000 fans and is named in honor of the man who helped shepherd the school into the Big Ten Conference.

But many of the Nittany Lions’ best moments as a basketball program came when the team called Rec Hall home. On Wednesday the school announced that Penn State would return to Rec Hall for one game this season, as they’ll host Princeton on Saturday, December 14.

The Nittany Lions haven’t played a game at Rec Hall since 1996, with their final game being a 79-50 win over Wisconsin on January 7, 1996.

“This is a very exciting day for our program, alumni and fans of Penn State basketball,” Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said in the release announcing the news. “I watched Penn State basketball in Rec Hall when I was younger, and it was electric. When I think of Rec Hall I think of passion, energy and tradition. We listened to our alums and fans and we wanted to bring that Rec Hall experience back.

“I’m very grateful to [athletic director] Dr. [David] Joyner, the administration and my fellow coaches who currently occupy Rec Hall who have been incredibly cooperative in making this game a reality.”

Currently used by the school’s volleyball (men’s and women’s) and gymnastics programs, Rec Hall will be configured to seat some 6,300 fans for the game with 2,100 of the tickets being set aside for students.

This marks the second consecutive season that a Big Ten team has played a game in its old gym, as Michigan State played an exhibition against Tuskegee last season to commemorate the anniversary of the 1963 “Game of Change” played between Loyola (Chicago) and Mississippi State at Jenison Field House.

Penn State won nearly 74% of its games at Rec Hall, posting a record of 514-183. And while there’s something to be said for the Nittany Lions’ struggles (from a talent standpoint) for much of their time in Bryce Jordan Center, many will say that the atmosphere had as much of an impact on opposing teams as the talent did.

Marshall will invade Penn State on Pearl Harbor Day

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It is a day that will live in infamy.

Not because of a basketball game, but still.

Marshall University has announced that they’ll traverse roughly 400 miles of prime coal-mining country that lies between Huntington and Happy Valley on December 7 of this year, so they can renew their basketball series with Penn State.

Tom Herrion’s club will be looking to build momentum for the regular season. The Thundering Herd haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1987, and it’s always taken an auto-bid to get them there. With C-USA’s membership dramatically altered by realignment, it’s anybody’s guess as to how many bids the league can garner in the upcoming season. Every win will count, and every loss will hurt, badly.

History is not on Marshall’s side in this one, as reported by the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.

Marshall has played the Nittany Lions five times previously and lost all five. The most recent meetings were in the 1991-92 season. Penn State defeated Marshall, 78-64, on Dec. 29, 1991, at the Palm Beach Classic in West Palm Beach, Fla., and also won at Cam Henderson Center, 67-60, on Jan. 16, 1992.

The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, would like to show some growth in a Big Ten that has just gotten tougher. Penn State has won just six league games in two years under Pat Chambers, and a weak non-conference game like this one won’t help them, win or lose. More than anything, these early season tests will give Chambers an idea of which supporting players might lend a hand to D.J. Newbill and Tim Frazier. That’s a great backcourt by any measure, but PSU will need a lot more than that to contend.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.