While we aren’t sure who won the fight between Michigan State teammates Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne — who both sat out the first half of tonight’s game due to a scuffle in the hotel room prior to the game — it’s safe to say that Payne’s career-high 20 points and seven rebounds in the Spartans (15-3, 4-1) 81-72 victory over Penn State (8-9, 0-5) would count as a KO.
Payne, who didn’t touch the floor until 15:30 left in the game, came out going 4-for-4 from the field with 10 points before he even played five minutes. The junior finished the game going 6-of-9 from the field, which included a three-pointer, something that the big man has added to his arsenal the past two games, and he went 7-of-10 from the line.
Dawson, Payne’s sparring partner, also brought a lot of energy in the second half as he had five points, four rebounds and three assists in 14 minutes.
However, on the hardwood, Dawson and Payne didn’t want a piece of Penn State guard Jermaine Marshall who finished the game with 29 points and 10 rebounds. The junior shot 10-of-18 from the field, and led a late Nittany Lion charge as he had seven points in the final three minutes.
Penn State also got help from sophomore guard D.J. Newbill who went 8-of-11 for 27 points and added six assists.
The guard combination of Newbill and Marshall was a tough matchup for the Spartan backcourt as they were able to get to whatever spot they wanted to on the floor.
MSU guard Keith Appling’s shooting troubles continued tonight against Penn State. Appling shot 27 percent — 3-of-11 shooting — with two assists and two turnovers. Tonight is the third straight game in which Appling has shot less than 30 percent.
The Spartans got a solid game off the bench from Travis Trice. The guard went 4-of-11 from the field with 11 points and three assists. Trice had struggled scoring the ball as of late, only having five points in his last two games combined.
Tonight’s victory marks Tom Izzo’s career 200th Big Ten win.
The Spartans have a rough schedule ahead as they play Ohio State next on Jan. 19, and then they play red-hot Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota.