The Penn State Nittany Lions (9-15), led by Lamar Stevens’ 26-point double-double, stunned the #6 Michigan Wolverines (22-3) in Happy Valley with a 75-69 victory.
It’s never a dull day in the Big Ten, where a last-place team can beat the first-place team without even blinking. Penn State, the basement dweller in the Big Ten, went into the game with a 1-11 conference record.
“They were absolutely terrific today,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “It’s great for our league to have a team that is in the bottom of the league beat a team that’s competing for the championship. It’s great parity.”
Michigan began the season on a torrid streak with a school-record 17-straight wins. After starting the season 17-0, the Wolverines are only 5-3 since then with two losses in their previous four games.
Michigan’s best scoring had foul trouble all game, while the rest of the team forgot how to play defense. The Wolverines have the third-best defense in the country, allowing only 57.8 points per game. Penn State put up 75 against them, including 40 in the first half.
Penn State’s Lamar Stevens took over the game with 26 points and 12 rebounds. The junior forward posted his tenth double-double of the season. Stevens also inspired the defense, which held Michigan to only 27 points in the first half. Penn State went into the locker room with a 13-point lead. They held off a late run by Michigan in the final ninety seconds to win by six points.
The usually cool John Beilein found himself ejected for the first time in his career at Michigan. Officials bounced him with two technical that occurred while walking off the court at halftime. Michigan played the second half without their coach.
“I haven’t been thrown out of a game since it was, I think it was ’78, ’79? Beilein said. “So, about 20 years before most of you were born. And you know me, I very rarely get a technical so I’ll deal with the league office going forward and see what I can do differently.”
Senior guard Charles Matthews led the Wolverines with 24 points. Jordan Poole added 17.
Penn State and quick whistles from the officials held Iggy Brazdeikis to only two points. He missed most of the game with foul trouble.
The Wolverines live and die by Brazdeikis. If Michigan’s leading scorer (14.6 ppg) has a bad game, they will most likely lose. Two of his worst games of the season occurred in losses.
Brazdeikis posted a donut with zero points in their first loss of the season against Wisconsin. In the rematch, Michigan won by 11 points, but Brazdeikis had an off night with two points on 1-for-9 shooting.
Against Penn State, Brazdeikis missed only one shot, but he only took four. He committed four fouls in only 17 minutes of action.
On Deck: Terrapin Station
The Wolverines have a few days to regroup before heading to Maryland to play the #24 Terrapins (19-6). Next week, Michigan hits the road to play Minnesota (16-8).
Two of the last four games of the season are against Tom Izzo and Michigan State. The Spartans (20-5) are currently ranked #11 and tied with Michigan for first place in the Big Ten.