PSU shocks No. 6 Michigan

UNIVERSITY PARK — Fueled by pure determination and a legacy-sealing performance by its star player, Penn State beat a better team in No. 6 Michigan, 75-69, to get its first home conference win.

“It really means a lot to me,” Lamar Stevens said. “Everybody works so hard.”

In a season where few things have gone right, Stevens led his team and had his most definitive game as a Nittany Lion against the Wolverines. The junior recorded a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds, marking his 10th career double-double.

“There’s maturity, there’s growth,” coach Patrick Chambers said. “Leadership never takes a day off, and he gets that now.”

Freshman Myles Dread complemented Stevens with 17 points, 15 of which came from behind the arc.

“Shots started falling,” Dread said. “I didn’t really realize how many I made until after the game.”

Michigan’s Charles Matthews led the Wolverines with 24 points.

The Lions’ defense started the game with and maintained an aggressive three-quarter-court press. Even though the aggression left them exposed at times, it prevented Michigan from establishing an early rhythm.

“Their press slowed us down,” Michigan coach John Beilein, who was ejected at halftime, said. “They were absolutely terrific today.”

Sparked by 2 3-pointers from Dread, the Lions took an early 17-9 lead. The Lions kept that buffer through the remainder of the half.

The primary reasons the Lions were able to handle the No. 6 team in the country was because of a serious effort output and rebounding.

“Those guys really stepped up and took ownership of the team at the most critical points,” Chambers said.

The Lions outrebounded the Wolverines, 35-25.

Penn State capped off its best half of the season against its toughest opponent of the season in wild fashion. Rasir Bolton, using an aggressive pick set by Jamari Wheeler, made a finger-roll layup at the half to extend Penn State’s lead, 40-27.

Beilein protested after the buzzer for an undisclosed reason and received two technicals and an ejection.

“I watched the game from the locker room,” Beilein, who hadn’t been ejected since the 1970s by his recollection, said. “So that was painful.”

Beilein’s technical fouls gave the Lions four free throws and a lot of momentum to start the second half.

The Wolverines struggled to have an answer for Stevens. Those struggles were amplified when Dread continued to nail 3-pointers.

Even with a comfortable buffer, the Lions played as if it was tied. They had good reason for their intensity.

Nearing the midpoint of the second half, Michigan went on a 12-2 run to cut the lead, 52-47. As much as the Lions were outplaying the Wolverines, the visitors had all the momentum.

Those final 10 minutes of the half is when Stevens cemented his legacy. He worked the mid-range shot like he had all night, and the Wolverines didn’t have answers.

“We couldn’t stop Stevens,” Beilein said.

The Lions defense made a number of huge stops and kept the Wolverines defense at distance. The Wolverines press gave the Lions some trouble with less than a minute to play and cut the lead to 4. The Lions survived the late push to improve to 2-11 in Big Ten play.

“It’s a special group,” Chambers said. “I don’t think our record is a reflection of how hard we’ve worked.”

Penn State will face Purdue on the road on Saturday.

MICHIGAN (22-3): Brazdeikis 3-4 0-0 6, Teske 2-2 1-1 5, Matthews 8-11 5-8 24, Poole 7-16 2-3 17, Simpson 2-9 2-2 8, Livers 2-4 2-2 7, Johns 0-1 0-0 0, Brooks 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 25-49 12-16 69.

PENN ST. (9-15): Stevens 9-23 8-13 26, Harrar 1-1 0-0 2, Wheeler 2-5 0-0 4, Reaves 2-6 4-7 9, Dread 5-8 2-4 17, Watkins 2-4 0-0 4, Bolton 3-5 7-10 13, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, McCloskey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-52 21-34 75.

Halftime–Penn St. 40-27. 3-Point Goals–Michigan 7-20 (Matthews 3-4, Simpson 2-6, Livers 1-2, Poole 1-8), Penn St. 6-15 (Dread 5-8, Reaves 1-2, Wheeler 0-2, Stevens 0-3). Fouled Out–Matthews. Rebounds–Michigan 25 (Livers 7), Penn St. 31 (Stevens 12). Assists–Michigan 10 (Poole, Simpson 4), Penn St. 7 (Wheeler 4). Total Fouls–Michigan 21, Penn St. 13. Technicals–Michigan coach John Beilein 2. Ejected–Beilein.