University Park, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Branden Dawson had 20 points and nine rebounds as the fifth-ranked Michigan State Spartans used a big second half to beat the Penn State Nittany Lions, 79-63, on Tuesday.
Keith Appling and Gary Harris added 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the Spartans (12-1, 1-0 Big Ten), who outscored Penn State by a 39-16 margin in the second half.
Brandon Taylor and D.J. Newbill tallied 18 and 17 points, respectively, for the Nittany Lions (9-5, 0-1), who have lost two of three.
Trailing 47-40, Michigan State started the second half on a 10-0 run. Harris tallied eight points during the spurt, including a pair of 3-pointers, to give the visitors a 50-47 lead.
Holding a 54-53 margin moments later, the Spartans used an 18-2 surge to put the game out of reach. Dawson scored 10 points during the burst, including a jumper with 7 1/2 minutes left to make it 72-55.
"When you're trying to stop the momentum and stop the run, I thought we did everything we were supposed to do; we just didn't convert," said Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers. "This has to be a learning-experience game. We have to learn a lot from this, because we have a chance, we do, but mentally, we have to get way tougher. They were tougher and they showed it."
Penn State got off to a hot start and led by 11, 25-14, following consecutive 3-pointers by Taylor with over 11 minutes left.
The Spartans responded with a 15-2 run that Denzel Valentine capped with a layup for a 29-27 lead.
The Nittany Lions, though, came right back with an 18-4 surge that Newbill finished off with a 3-pointer for a 45-33 edge.
"The first half they blitzed us in every way possible," Spartans head coach Tom Izzo remarked. "They made shots, they played harder, they played better defense. They really hurt us with the pick-and-roll and we just covered them as poorly as you can."
Michigan State scored seven of the final nine points in the half to get within seven at the break.
Michigan State owns a commanding 32-7 lead in the all-time series with Penn State ... The Spartans have won five in a row since a loss to North Carolina on Dec. 4 ... Travis Trice tallied 12 points off the bench for MSU.