Shep Garner repeated the same thought three times after Penn State’s 27-point loss to No. 5 Michigan State.
“Today was their day,” Garner said. “They’re a great team.”
The Spartans rode the hot shooting of Bryn Forbes to 13-point halftime lead — the guard went 6 for 8 from beyond the arc and scored 20 points in the first half. And they ran away from the Nittany Lions as Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine scored all 10 of his points and the Spartans shot 61.3 percent from the field in the second half.
The final result was a 92-65 win over Penn State on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Forbes finished with 20 points, and Eron Harris and Gavin Schilling each had 13 points for the Spartans (16-1, 3-1 Big Ten). After missing the previous four games following arthroscopic knee surgery, Valentine turned in a strong second half after going 0 for 5 in 13 minutes in the first half.
Garner led Penn State (10-7, 1-3) with 19 points.
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said the Spartans’ performance showed why they were ranked No. 1 in the nation earlier this season.
“We got to learn from this,” Chambers said. “We got to watch film. It’s no time to panic or overreact. We got to watch this tape and try to get better from it in every facet because I felt like Michigan State beat us in every facet and we had three of the greatest practices.
“They were tough, they were physical practices. They were great. But still no match for a great veteran team like Michigan State.”
Penn State’s 3-point defense proved to be a problem again Sunday.
The Nittany Lions allowed Michigan State’s best shooter to get plenty of open looks from deep in the first half, and Forbes made them pay.
Forbes, who came into the game shooting 47.4 percent from 3, drilled his first long-range shot about six minutes into the game. Penn State’s Josh Reaves couldn’t get through a screen, leaving Forbes open from the right corner and he drilled it.
He was left wide open and knocked down a 3 to make it 17-7. After Penn State cut what was once a 16-point deficit to seven points with less than four minutes left in the half, Forbes pushed the lead back to 10. Nittany Lions forward Julian Moore was late reacting on a switch, and Forbes’ 3 hit the front of the rim and dropped in.
Penn State lost track of Forbes again later in the half as Moore rushed out as he fired and hit again. And the guard’s final 3 of the half sent the Spartans into the break with a 40-27 lead. The Spartans finished 10 for 20 from deep, becoming the third straight team to hit at least 10 3s and shoot 50 percent from beyond the arc against the Nittany Lions.
“We’re not doing a great job covering that line,” Chambers said. “And I’ll dissect the film again. I’ve dissected Minnesota. We got to cover that 3-point line.”
Forbes didn’t take on shot in the second half, but the Spartans continued to roll.
Michigan State opened up a 20-point lead five minutes into the second half and led by as many as 31 en route to the win.
Valentine went 4 for 6 from the field for his 10 points in the final 20 minutes. He also finished with four rebounds and four assists.
“What I love about that kid is I at went at him at halftime because I just didn’t think he was playing with the same pizazz,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I don’t care if he plays with the same skill level. ... He seemed a little casual, tentative to me, and he answered the bell. That’s what’s gonna make that kid special before he’s done.”
Chambers said his team didn’t do the little things. The Nittany Lions didn’t set good screens and didn’t set up their defenders, something they worked on in the days leading up to the game.
And they can learn how crucial those little things are after playing the Spartans.
“I call it 95,” Chambers said. “Five percent of the game is shooting and having the ball in your hands. The other 95 you don’t have the ball in your hands. So what are you gonna do to work on the 95? You’re gonna screen hard, you’re gonna cut hard, you’re gonna set your men up. Are you gonna be selfless, are you gonna make the extra pass — the hockey assist as we call it? Are you gonna do those things?”
Chambers continued by talking about rotations on the defensive end and praising Michigan State’s execution of those little things.
The coach then said his players will put this game behind them.
“We’re gonna be on a little bit of a roller coaster this year,” Chambers said, “but we just got to stay together.”
Notes: Penn State’s Julian Moore had 13 points on 4 for 5 shooting. Devin Foster had a career-high 12 points. Brandon Taylor scored 10 points on 3 for 12 shooting. ... Penn State center Jordan Dickerson played just seven minutes due to foul trouble. He picked up two fouls less than two minutes into the game and finished with four fouls. ... The Nittany Lions had five assists and 13 turnovers. ... Penn State returns to action at No. 20 Purdue at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.