Michigan State seeking season sweep at Penn State

Jan 4, 2024; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Malik Hall (25) slams the ball home against Penn State Nittany Lions guard Nick Kern Jr. (3) during the second half at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

This season’s first matchup between Michigan State and Penn State was heavily one-sided, in favor of the Spartans.

The Big Ten rivals reconvene Wednesday when the Spartans visit the Nittany Lions at University Park, Pa.

Michigan State (15-9, 7-6) thumped Penn State 92-61 on Jan. 4 as Malik Hall matched his career high with 24 points and Mady Sissoko equaled a personal best with 12 rebounds.

The Spartans shot a crisp 56.3 percent from the field in that one, including 10 of 21 from 3-point range. The Nittany Lions’ numbers were dramatically different as they made just 3 of 29 3-pointers as part of a 32.3 percent shooting effort.

Michigan State enters this one having won three of its last four games, most recently an 88-80 triumph over then-No. 10 Illinois on Saturday. A.J. Hoggard led the way with 23 points, five assists and zero turnovers, much to the delight of veteran coach Tom Izzo.

“A.J. has been a guy that I’ve been on for four years,” coach Tom Izzo said. “You saw why. He played extremely well. … We beat one of the most talented, best teams that we’ve played. What does that do for us? A lot.”

Hall chipped in 22 points and Tyson Walker added 19 for Michigan State.

Meanwhile, Penn State (12-12, 6-7) enters on the heels of a 68-63 setback Sunday at Northwestern, snapping the team’s three-game winning streak. It was another struggle from 3-point range for the Nittany Lions, who went 6 of 19 from outside the arc.

Ace Baldwin Jr. went 1 of 5 from long range and 4 of 13 overall as part of a 17-point effort.

Nick Kern Jr. chipped in 18 points and Kanye Clary, the team’s leading scorer who had missed time recently with an undisclosed injury, was limited to 14 scoreless minutes off the bench.

“This league is unforgiving. No excuses. Close doesn’t count. This time of year, let’s see if we can get better and go,” said Penn State coach Mike Rhoades. “We’ve got to turn the page quick here and get ready to play Wednesday night.”

–Field Level Media

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