Michigan teams held serve at home on Wednesday night, as Michigan State took care of business and Michigan rallied from a double-digit second half deficit.
Big Ten Game of the Day:
-Michigan 72, Penn State 69
Penn State (9-7, 1-2 Big Ten) held a 14-point lead midway through the first half, but Michigan (11-4, 1-1) got hot down the stretch to win its first Big Ten game.
The Nittany Lions seemingly took control with a 13-2 run that gave them a 54-40 lead with 12:41 to play.
Then Michigan took over, starting with a Mark Donnal offensive rebound and putback at the 12:11 mark. Duncan Robinson added five straight points, Derrick Walton Jr. hit a 3-pointer and Zak Irvin had a steal and basket to bring the Wolverines within 55-52 with 8:35 to play. The Michigan defense also locked in, holding Penn State without a field goal for six minutes.
The teams traded baskets until Walton hit a big 3-pointer to trim the deficit to 61-60 with 3:56 remaining. On the ensuing possession, Walton assisted D.J. Wilson for a dunk that gave the Wolverines their first lead of the second half.
Lamar Stevens responded for Penn State, but Irvin gave Michigan the lead for good with a jumper that handed the Wolverines a 64-63 advantage with 2:03 to go.
The Wolverines, a typically proficient 3-point shooting team, struggled from behind the arc, shooting just 28.6 percent (6-for-21). But the Wolverines made up for it by shooting 54.3 percent (19-for-35) from inside the arc and 76.2 percent (16-for-21) from the free-throw line.
Four of Michigan’s starters scored in double figures, led by 14 points each for Walton and Irvin. Irvin added four points, four assists and two steals, while Walton chipped in six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Moritz Wagner finished with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, as Wilson had 12 points and three blocks.
Stevens paced Penn State with 16 points and nine rebounds in just 19 minutes. Shep Garner added 12 points off the bench, while Josh Reaves added 11 points and Payton Banks had 10 points.
Penn State held a 38-27 rebounding advantage, but committed 14 turnovers compared to just five turnovers for Michigan.
The Wolverines bounced back from Sunday’s 86-83 overtime loss at Iowa, and will look to improve to 2-1 in conference play when they host Maryland on Saturday.
The Nittany Lions have a tough January ahead of them, beginning with a home game against Michigan State on Saturday.
-Michigan State 93, Rutgers 65
Concerns have lessened in East Lansing over the last few weeks, and the Spartans checked another of their worries off the list on Wednesday night.
Miles Bridges returned after more than a month off and looked like Miles Bridges. The freshman forward came off the bench and showed no signs of his ankle injury, throwing one down on his first possession of the game.
Bridges, who hadn’t played since Nov. 29, later added a dunk off a fast-break lob and finished with 6 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two assists in 17 minutes of action.
The rest of the Spartans, who are continuing to establish depth, delivered as well. Michigan State (11-5, 3-0 Big Ten) took a 42-32 lead into halftime, then pulled away early in the second half with a 14-3 run to open up a 63-43 lead with 12:06 remaining.
Michigan State shot 57.9 percent (33-for-57) from the field, including 50.0 percent (11-for-22) from the 3-point line, on its way to a 93-point night. It was the Spartans’ highest-scoring game since a 100-53 win over Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 18.
Eron Harris led the charge. The senior guard put up 24 points and four assists on 7-of-12 shooting, including going 5-of-8 from behind the arc. It was a welcome game for Harris, who had scored just 9 points on 3-of-13 shooting over the course of Michigan State’s first two Big Ten games.
Freshman big man Nick Ward, who emerged while Bridges was out, added 15 points, six rebounds, four blocks, two assists and one steal.
Michigan State had a 37-8 advantage in bench scoring, including 12 points for Matt McQuaid and 9 for Kenny Goins.
The Spartans finished with 26 assists on 33 field goals, compared to seven assists on 25 field goals for the Scarlet Knights (11-5, 0-3).
Rutgers shot 41.7 percent (25-for-60) from the field, 37.5 percent (3-for-8) from the 3-point line and just 44.4 percent (12-for-27) from the free-throw line.
Corey Sanders scored a team-high 22 points for the Scarlet Knights. The sophomore guard added five rebounds and two steals while shooting 9-of-16 from the field. Nigel Johnson and C.J. Gettys added 15 points and 10 points, respectively.
After surprising non-conference seasons for both teams, the Spartans and Rutgers have returned to form at the start of Big Ten play.
Don’t look now, but the Spartans are 3-0 in the conference and their schedule sets up for a fast start. Michigan State will host Penn State and Minnesota in the next week before beginning a tough stretch at Ohio State, at No. 25 Indiana and at home against No. 20 Purdue.
After starting the season 11-1, Rutgers has dropped four straight, including three Big Ten games. The Scarlet Knights have a minus-20.3 average scoring margin in the Big Ten and will look to right the ship when they visit Iowa on Sunday.