The day after Penn State’s loss to Michigan, Shep Garner and his teammates all put some early work in.
It showed Garner that the Nittany Lions are on the same page heading into their game against Michigan State at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Palestra. With six players on the roster from the Philadelphia area, the Nittany Lions aren’t getting caught up in playing in front of family and friends.
They got back to work Thursday focused on Michigan State.
“We want to get a win,” Garner said. “That’s the bottom line. We want to get a win. We’re going to come home and get a win, try to defend them the best way we can, keep them off the offensive glass the best way we can and come out of the Palestra with a win.”
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Penn State (9-7, 1-2) is coming off a 72-69 loss at Michigan while the Spartans (11-5, 3-0) have won four straight.
Michigan State received a boost when freshman Miles Bridges returned from an ankle injury against Rutgers on Wednesday night. After missing the previous seven games, Bridges had six points and six rebounds in 17 minutes in the Spartans’ 93-65 win over the Scarlet Knights. The 6-foot-7 forward, a five-star recruit coming out of high school, leads Michigan State with 15.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
The Nittany Lions are looking to get back in the win column at the Palestra.
Penn State most recently played at the historic building last season, beating Drexel 63-57. Freshmen Lamar Stevens, Tony Carr and Nazeer Bostick led Roman Catholic to the Philadelphia Catholic League championship at the Palestra last year.
“It’s crazy,” Stevens said of playing at the Palestra. “It doesn’t fit that many people but you can feel, kind of like, everybody. It’s a special place to play and I’m excited to go back to play with Penn State.”
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said Saturday’s game will be a different experience.
“This is new now,” Chambers said. “This is Big Ten, this is Michigan State. This is a whole different dynamic so we want to make sure they’re playing for each other and not for the people in the crowd.”
Garner isn’t concerned with who will be in the crowd.
But he knows Penn State will have family and friends at the game showing their support.
“It’s needed, especially in a game like that against Michigan State, because when we go to Michigan State, it’s chaos,” Garner said. “We get to return the favor a little bit.”
Notes: In August, the matchup at the Palestra was announced as a home game for Penn State, but it will now be considered a neutral-site game for both teams. ... Michigan State’s last game at the Palestra was in December 1966 in the Quaker City Tournament. Michigan State lost to Villanova and Bowling Green. ... The Spartans beat Minnesota 75-74 in overtime and Northwestern 61-52 for their other Big Ten wins.
Michigan State vs. Penn State
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Palestra, Philadelphia
Radio: WQWK 1450
Matt Van Dyk