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Michigan State confident as Penn State comes to town


Michigan State enters the beefy portion of its Big Ten schedule with confidence and hunger.

The Spartans started the season ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll but fell out of the rankings after a 3-3 start. Now, they’ll host Penn State in East Lansing, Mich., on Thursday seeking to extend their winning streak to five games.

A pair of conference losses in early December puts the Spartans (8-5 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) in catchup mode.

“We want to win the Big Ten. Obviously, it looks like a long shot right now but for us, that’s our goal,” forward Malik Hall said. “That’s something we talked about at the beginning of the year, so we’re going to come to the next couple games and be ready to go.”

Michigan State lost at home to Wisconsin and on the road to Nebraska. The Spartans then reeled off victories against previously unbeaten Baylor, Oakland, Stony Brook and Indiana State.

The Spartans’ 87-75 win on Saturday snapped the Sycamores’ 10-game winning streak.

“Are we battle tested? I don’t know,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I know one thing, we played against a lot of different kinds of ball. Baylor gave us one kind of ball, Wisconsin gave us a different kind. I think we are at least prepared in that respect — to guard many different sets.”

The Nittany Lions (7-6, 1-1) are coming off non-conference wins over Le Moyne and Rider. In Big Ten games, they lost at Maryland in overtime and captured a home victory over Ohio State.

They’re led in scoring by guard Kanye Clary (18.2 points per game), who had a career-best 29 points against Rider. The Spartans are paced by guard Tyson Walker (20.0 points per game).

“Walker can really score in bunches, score in different ways,” Nittany Lions coach Mike Rhoades said. “He’s a really good isolation guy. He can make threes off the dribble as well and he can get it to the rim. He makes big plays for them, he’s got to score for them.”

Michigan State has a 25-2 record against Penn State in East Lansing. The Spartans lead the all-time series 43-10.

–Field Level Media

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