Adreian Payne returns for the first time in almost a month as the Spartans take on the Nittany Lions of Penn State University Thursday night. Payne missed the last seven games nursing a foot injury.
Payne will most likely play limited minutes against Penn State, but MSU will be glad to have their starting big man back.
When Michigan State played Penn State on New Year’s Eve, Payne had a decent showing, scoring five points and collecting 10 rebounds. Branden Dawson had a breakout game falling just one rebound short of a double-double, as he poured in 20 points and snagged nine boards.
Dawson will be out against the Nittany Lions with a broken hand.
The rest of the scoring was mostly collective. Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice all scored nearly 10 points in about 30 minutes of play.
The Spartans came out flat against Penn State the last time these two met and PSU held a seven-point lead heading into halftime.
The second half was a completely different story, as MSU held Penn State to just 13 points in the half.
Penn State is currently on a three-game winning streak, the middle of that streak a 71-70 overtime thriller to beat No. 24 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.
Michigan State comes off its first loss away from the Breslin Center as they fell 64-60 to Georgetown in Madison Square Garden.
Appling and Harris will need to be at their defensive best as the Nittany Lions rely heavily on their two guards, Junior D.J. Newbill and Senior Tim Frazier. The taller Harris will most likely have the task of checking the 6-foot-4 Newbill.
With Payne back, Michigan State should be able to use their shooters and size to beat Penn State, but with the Big Ten currently a race to the bottom, the Spartans will have to come out fast and impose their will to beat the Nittany Lions.
Andrew Hayes is the host of Impact Izzone for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports