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Nittany Lions fall to No. 5 Spartans

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Second-half shooting cools as Penn State drops Big Ten opener 79-63

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (Dec. 31, 2013) – Sophomore Brandon Taylor (Tabernacle, N.J.) and junior D.J. Newbill (Philadelphia, Pa.) led the Penn State men’s basketball team with 35 combined points but their efforts proved not enough as the Nittany Lions fell to No. 5 Michigan State, 79-63, on New Year’s Eve at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Taylor posted a team-high 18 points for his seventh double-figure scoring effort of the season while Newbill tallied 17 points for his 29th-consecutive double digit scoring performance.

Branden Dawson led the charge for MSU, nearly reaching a double-double with 20 points and nine boards while Keith Appling posted 14 points, Gary Harris notched 13 and Travis Trice scored 12.

The Lions fall to 9-5 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten action, winning four of their last eight openers, while the Spartans improve to 12-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play. MSU holds a 32-7 record against PSU all-time.

PSU shot 38.5 percent (20-of-52) from the field, 42.9 percent (9-of-21) from 3-point range and 63.6 percent (14-of-22) from the free throw line. Michigan State hit 43.9 percent (29-of-66) from the floor, 50 percent from beyond the arc (10-of-20) and 84.6 percent from the charity stripe.

Sophomore Donovon Jack (Reading, Pa.) opened up the contest with a trey and Newbill followed with a layup at the 18:53 mark to give the Lions a 5-0 lead out of the gate. Adreian Payne put the Spartans on the board just under a minute later, laying the ball in on a fast break.

Five free throws from Travis and Taylor pushed the Blue and White’s lead to 10-3 just before the first media timeout at the 15:49 mark. Newbill came out of the timeout with two three-pointers and a free throw while Taylor knocked down back-to-back treys and Travis laid one in to give Penn State its largest lead of the game at 25-14 with just over 11 minutes remaining in the half.

The Spartans battled back with a 15-2 run of their own to earn their first lead of the game with 6:51 on the clock. Trice and Kenny Kaminski opened the streak with a pair of threes, Harris added five points on two free throws and a trey, Dawson tied the contest on a dunk and Denzel Valentine close out the run with a layup, putting the score at 29-27.

The Nittany Lions regained the lead at the 5:46 mark on a Taylor jumper and another Jack three. PSU tallied 15 additional points before the half while the Spartans tacked on 11, leaving the count at 47-40 at the intermission.

The momentum quickly turned in MSU’s favor after the break as the Spartans posted a 10-0 run to start the second half. Harris contributed greatly to the scoring streak, dropping eight points while Valentine knocked down two free throws. John Johnson (Philadelphia, Pa.) produced a layup at the 15:33 mark to give the Blue and White their first basket of the half but the Spartans responded quickly as Dawson hammered in a dunk to put MSU up 52-49.

Tim Frazier (Houston, Texas) knotted the game up at 52 points apiece with a trey but the Lions were unable to take over as Appling drained a layup and two three-pointers to put MSU ahead by seven. The Spartans controlled the remainder of the game, holding Penn State to just 10 additional points to leave the final score at 79-63.

The Nittany Lions return to action on Saturday, traveling west to face Illinois. Tip is set for 2:15 p.m. (ET) at the State Farm Center. Their next home action will be against Minnesota next Wednesday, Jan. 8 in the Jordan Center.

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