The Michigan State Spartans took on the Penn State Nittany Lions tonight at the Breslin Center in East Lansing and to no one’s surprise, the Spartans dominated from the opening tip until the very end, winning the game 82-67. Michigan State did so with injured stars Brandon Dawson (broken hand) and Keith Appling (wrist) taking the night off.
Although the Spartans were without Dawson and Appling, they were able to get Adreian Payne back for the game. Payne had missed the team’s previous seven games with a foot sprain that had been bothering him for quite some time. He entered the game and received a thunderous applause from the crowd. Fittingly enough, he hit his first shot back and then followed up with a put back two possessions later. It was like he had never left. Payne finished the night with 12 points.
The Nittany Lions were led by Tim Frazier who had 22 points. While he looked impressive, Penn State was just no match for the Spartans, who proved that they were the far more physical team throughout the night, especially on the boards. The strength and size of Michigan State was just something that Penn State could not account for.
Without a doubt, Payne’s presence provided a spark for the Spartans. His return helped other players as well, including Kenny Kaminski, who was back to his normal sharp-shooting form going 5-6 from the three-point line and finishing with 19 points, 13 of which came in the first half. Michigan State finished with 12 three-pointers, the most it has had in a conference game in six years. Gary Harris was his usual self, leading the way for the Spartans with 20 points.
The Spartans got back on track with the win after losing a non-conference game to the Georgetown Hoyas on Saturday. Thursday’s win gives them momentum heading into their next game on Sunday against the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison, which will be a tough road test for Michigan State. The Spartans gained a lot of confidence heading into Sunday’s game with the return of their star center tonight though, and the team is hoping that Appling will be able to return for their matchup versus Wisconsin. Look for them to make a run in the coming weeks, especially if they are able to get fully healthy.