Too Late the Hero

Brooks' return from a shoulder injury didn't happen quite soon enough as the Nittany Lions tumbled at Michigan State Thursday night.

The good news for Penn State is that forward Jeff Brooks returned to action at Michigan State Thursday after missing a game and a half with a dislocated shoulder. He went 6 of 6 from the floor for 15 points.

The bad news is that Nittany Lion coach Ed DeChellis waited four minutes too long to get his athletic senior, best rebounder and second-leading scorer on the floor, as PSU fell behind early and never fully recovered in a 75-57 loss.

Considered to have a legit shot of making the NCAA Tournament a week ago, the Nittany Lions fell to 12-11 overall and 5-7 in the Big Ten. Now they're sitting on the NIT bubble.

MSU, coming off blowout losses at Iowa and to Wisconsin, improved to 14-10 and 6-6 behind a triple-double from forward Draymond Green.

With Brooks opening the game on the bench, Penn State saw the struggling Spartans race out to a 15-3 lead.

“We were just running uphill the rest of the night,” DeChellis said.

DeChellis finally got Brooks into the action and he responded with a quick score and ultimately a team-best nine points (on 4-of-4 shooting) in the half.

The damage had already been done, though.

Penn State never cut the deficit below 10 in the opening half. The Lions got it to 10 (28-18) when Brooks made a jumper with 5:16 left in the period.

But he did not get a shot the rest of the half. With top scorer Talor Battle being held to five points on 2-of-9 shooting in the period, PSU came unglued and trailed 41-21 at the break.

After intermission, the Lions did not make a field goal until the 15:13 mark of the game, when David Jackson hit a 3-pointer. Unfortunately for PSU, it was trailing 45-22 before he made the shot.

Penn State clawed within 10 on several occasions late but never could get the deficit below double digits as Michigan State walked away with an easy win.

It was another difficult night for the Lions' starting big men -- fifth-year seniors Jackson and Andrew Jones. They combined to go 1 of 6 for two points and two rebounds in the first half and finished with a combined 12 points and five rebounds in the game.

Early in the second half, Spartan wing Durrell Summers drove around Jackson and slammed home a dunk as Jones made no effort to offer help defense in the paint.

“Our posts were a non-factor tonight,” DeChellis said.

The only actual factors were Brooks and Battle, the latter of whom warmed up late and finished with 19 points, five rebounds (as many as Jackson and Jones combined) and four assists. Battle passed Joe Crispin for second on the PSU career scoring list and with 1,996 now needs just four to become the 22nd play in Big Ten history to tally 2,000 points.

Penn State beat Michigan State 66-62 at the Jordan Center Jan. 8. In this game, however, the Spartans toyed with the Lions. They dominated the glass, 38-23. They made 52.4 percent of their shots. They canned 26 of 35 free throws.

And they bent over backward to get Green the triple-double. With the game in hand (a 69-57 lead) and less than 30 seconds left, Green inbounded nearly the length of the floor to Delvon Roe, who scored and was fouled at the :21 mark. The assist gave Green his triple double.

If not for the push to get Green the triple-double, MSU probably would have run out the clock and won 69-57. Which happened to be the same lead the Spartans enjoyed when DeChellis finally called Brooks' number.

SHORT SHOTS:

• Penn State actually made more field goals than Michigan State, sinking 23 to the Spartans' 22. The difference came at the free-throw line.

• The Lions made only 4 of 11 foul shots. … PSU plays host to Northwestern at the Jordan Center Sunday. The game is scheduled to tip at 3:30 p.m.


Fight On State Top Stories