UNIVERSITY PARK - No. 18 Michigan State put a dent in the Nittany Lion Inn Wednesday morning. Wednesday evening, the Spartans inflicted Payne on the Nittany Lion basketball team at the Jordan Center.
MSU forward Adreian Payne sat for the first 23 minutes of the game against Penn State as punishment for a morning fight with a teammate that damaged a wall at the team hotel and resulted in police being called to the scene.
But Payne dominated the action once he took the floor at the 16:37 mark of the second half, scoring 16 points in less than six minutes as the Spartans (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) broke open a tight game on the way to an 81-72 victory.
"He hit some great shots," PSU coach Pat Chambers said. "Fade-away 15-footers, 3-pointers. ... He was energized obviously by what happened so he was ready to go. He did some great things and we didn't have that punch-back when he came in."
"I was excited," said Payne, who finished with a career-high 20 points in less than 17 minutes overall. "I felt like a dog let out of a cage."
The Nittany Lions, who played their best basketball of the Big Ten season before Payne and sparring partner Branden Dawson were finally allowed on the floor (and then again after Payne's scoring outburst) remained winless in the conference (0-5) and dropped below .500 overall (8-9).
The loss tarnished career-best scoring games by PSU guards Jermaine Marshall (29 points and 10 rebounds) and D.J. Newbill (27 points and six assists).
"We were just trying to will our team to a win," Newbill said. "But we lost. So to us the numbers are just a shadow."
Penn State led 36-35 when Marshall hit a layup with 15:16 left in the game. Fresh off the bench, the athletic 6-foot-10 Payne responded with his first bucket 15 seconds later - a short jumper - and MSU would never trail again. By the time Payne completed his 16-point barrage with 9:11 showing, the Lions were in a double-digit hole.
Payne would not make a field goal the rest of the way. But it didn't matter as his teammates were back in the flow.
Penn State, meanwhile, got outstanding efforts from Marshall and Newbill but virtually nothing from their teammates. With four minutes left in the game - and MSU up a comfortable dozen - Nittany Lions not named Marshall or Newbill had accounted for all of 14 points.
Penn State would eventually cut the lead to five twice in the final two minutes (71-66 and 73-68), both on Marshall slashes to the basket. But MSU responded both times and eventually locked up the win by making 9 of 10 free throws in the final 42 seconds.
"We need help from some other positions," Chambers said. "Guys need to step up. We can't be a two-man show all season long."
And yet even with only two men doing the bulk of the heavy lifting, Penn State finally found its offensive rhythm in a conference game. In four previous Big Ten outings, the Lions averaged 49.5 points.
"For us to get 72 [points], we haven't seen that in a long time," Chambers said. "We need to get stops. We had a great opportunity tonight. I felt like we let one slip away."
Game notes: No charges stemmed from the hotel scuffle between road roommates Payne and Dawson at the Nittany Lion Inn. MSU coach Tom Izzo, who made the duo face a packed media room after the game, said they will pay for a hole they created after they crashed into a wall. ... Both players apologized profusely for the incident. "I feel embarrassed and I want to apologize to Penn State and our program," Payne said. ... The Lions' starting frontcourt of Brandon Taylor (0 of 6), Ross Travis (1 of 2) and Sasa Borovnjak (1 of 5) scored six total points. ... Penn State is back in action Saturday when Nebraska visits the BJC for a 1 p.m. tip.
MICHIGAN STATE (15-3): Gauna 1-2 0-0 2, Nix 5-5 2-5 12, Appling 3-11 5-6 12, Harris 3-7 6-7 14, Valentine 1-5 0-0 2, Byrd 1-2 0-0 3, Payne 6-9 7-10 20, Costello 0-0 0-0 0, Trice 4-11 1-1 11, Dawson 2-3 1-1 5. Totals 26-55 22-30 81.
PENN STATE (8-9): Taylor 0-6 0-0 0, Borovnjak 1-5 2-2 4, Travis 1-2 0-0 2, Newbill 8-12 11-15 27, Marshall 10-18 6-8 29, Montminy 1-1 0-0 2, Colella 2-3 0-2 6, Graham 1-2 0-0 2, Ackerman 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-50 19-27 72.
Halftime-Michigan St. 29-25. 3-Point Goals-Michigan St. 7-17 (Harris 2-3, Trice 2-6, Payne 1-1, Byrd 1-2, Appling 1-4, Valentine 0-1), Penn St. 5-16 (Marshall 3-7, Colella 2-3, Newbill 0-1, Taylor 0-5). Fouled Out-Marshall. Rebounds-Michigan St. 33 (Payne 7), Penn St. 30 (Marshall 10). Assists-Michigan St. 17 (Nix 4), Penn St. 9 (Newbill 6). Total Fouls-Michigan St. 18, Penn St. 23. A-6,585.