February 1, 2009

VIDEO: Izzo chides team for lack of defense in loss

EAST LANSING - For the second straight home game, Big Ten leader Michigan State has fallen to a team that they had previously beaten on the road.

Since losing their last game to Northwestern, the Spartans had reeled off back-to-back road wins against Ohio State and Iowa before returning to the Breslin Center, a venue where they had not lost a single game during the 2007-2008 season.

But strong individual efforts by Penn State stars Jamelle Cornely in the first half and dynamic sophomore point guard Talor Battle in the second half helped the Nittany Lions upend the nation's No. 7 ranked team 72-68.

"You win at home because you work," said Tom Izzo. "You don't win at home because you show up."

Michigan State nearly avoided an upset by rallying from a 12-point deficit with just under 5 minutes left in the game and could have tied the contest if sophomore Kalin Lucas could have buried the back and of a 1-and-1 free throw with 12 seconds left.

"The game wasn't won or loss by Kalin Lucas' free-throw," said Tom Izzo. "The game was lost when we decided not to guard anybody. We haven't guarded well in the last five games - I have been complaining about it to you and to our team."

Lucas was 8-of-9 from the free-throw line.

"The game was lost at the 7-minute mark of the first half," said Izzo. "We let up for a 5-minute stretch. We played damn good in that first half for 13 minutes."

Lucas, who sparked the comeback, finished with a team-high 23 points. Chris Allen and Goran Suton each finished with 11 points apiece. Durrell Summers scored 9 points in the loss.
Battle led all scorers with 29 points on 11 of 19 shooting. Cornley scored 16 points for the Nittany Lions who improved to 17-5 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play. Michigan State dropped to 17-4 on the season and 7-2 in Big Ten play.

At 7-2, Michigan State remains atop the Big Ten. But the Spartans have company at the top of the conference with Purdue joining the Spartans as the only team in the Big Ten with two losses or less.

"I have said all along that three or four losses would win the league," said Izzo. "I didn't change it when we were 5-0, 5-1, or 7-1."

Penn State shot 56 percent overall against Michigan State and was 10 of 20 from 3-point range.

"I have never seen two losses with banked-in threes, 35-foot threes," Izzo said. "I cannot really condemn those as not guarding, but we let them get hot there at the 7-minute mark of the first half and that changed the game."

Raymar Morgan played three minutes. Izzo had intended to keep Morgan out of the line-up against Penn State.
Izzo was pleased that Morgan gave him three minutes and sacrificed his season statistics for the good of his team.

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