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January 8, 2011

Izzo: 'one of the most disappointing losses of my career'

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Talor Battle wasn't rattled by his bad day. Not with a potential upset of No. 18 Michigan State at stake.

Penn State's star guard asked for the ball with less than a minute left and his team up by one, and he came through in the clutch. His off-balance jumper gave the Nittany Lions a three-point lead with 18 seconds left, and they held on for a 66-62 win over the Spartans.

Durrell Summers led Michigan State (10-5, 2-1 Big Ten) with 21 points, but shot an airball on a potential game-tying 3 from the corner with 10 seconds left.

Jeff Brooks had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Penn State (9-6, 2-2), his second straight double-double, and forward Andrew Jones scored 16 points. But it was Battle who took the big shot after getting some encouragement from his fellow senior.

"Jeff came up to me and said, 'T, it's showtime,"' said Battle, the Big Ten's leading scorer, who was held to 13 points on 3-of-13 shooting. He was just 1 of 8 on 3-pointers.

Korie Lucious hounded Battle before the guard shook off the defender, took a slight step back near the baseline and let go from about 12 feet in the waning moments.

"I knew it would go in, it was just one of those feelings," Battle said.

It was a huge win for the Nittany Lions, in the second of a grueling five-game stretch against ranked opponents. They snapped a 10-game losing streak to Top 25 teams - and several of the 8,500-plus in attendance at the Jordan Center celebrated by storming the court.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo wasn't in such a good mood, though. After edging Northwestern by three points Monday, the Spartans couldn't pull off another tight conference road game.

"It was one of the most disappointing losses of my career, not because of Penn State, but because of the way we prepared," Izzo said. "We had one of our best weeks of practice."
Summers (7 of 16 shooting) produced, as did fellow backcourt mate Kalin Lucas (14 points), but Michigan State's big men struggled against the energized frontcourt trio of Jones, Brooks and David Jackson (11 points, seven rebounds.)
Draymond Green had 10 rebounds but finished 2-of-10 shooting for just five points, while Delvon Roe had seven points and one board, hampered by foul trouble much of the game.

After getting outrebounded by Purdue by 15, and losing by the same margin, Penn State pounded the glass to outrebound the Spartans 40-36, including 15 on the offensive end.
"When we play aggressive and get on rebounds, we do a great job of staying in the game and getting a chance to win," Brooks said.

They also took care of the ball with six turnovers to Michigan State's 11. The Spartans had just four in the first half before early season ball-handling mistakes re-emerged in the second half in Happy Valley.

Neither team led by more than six all day. They traded buckets down the stretch, few bigger than when Jones fought off Green to convert Battle's missed 3. Jones hit a foul shot a minute later for a 63-61 lead.
After Summers converted a free throw, coach Ed DeChellis put the ball in the hands of his star guard in the tense closing seconds.

"We did a pretty good job on Battle, and yet great players make great players down the stretch," Izzo said. "I just thought we had some opportunities and we just didn't finish baskets or get rebounds, and they scored on them."

Going just 10 of 20 from the foul line didn't help, either.

"It was just frosting on the cake," Izzo said about the free throws. "Disappointing loss. This time, I can't blame it on our preparation."


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