Payne has 20, No. 18 Spartans hold off PSU 81-72
By GENARO C. ARMAS
In between, there were some tense moments for the scuffling Spartans with an unhappy coach Tom Izzo and 20-plus minutes spent on the bench as punishment before Michigan State asserted control in the second half.
Payne had a career-best 20 points in the 18th-ranked Spartans' 81-72 win Wednesday night, then paired with Dawson to share responsibility for their spat in Happy Valley.
"There were a couple words that escalated into an incident, a tussle. We were tussling and bumped into a wall," Payne said. "I feel embarrassed and want to apologize to Penn State and our program."
Coach Tom Izzo left the roommates - and two of his best forwards - on the bench until about 16:30 of the second half.
"It kind of got out of hand," Dawson said about the altercation. "We deserved it."
Payne, a sturdy 6-foot-10 forward, made up for lost time by dominating the post in the second half. He had 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting in a stretch of 6-plus minutes after entering the game with about 16:30 left.
Payne added a 3-pointer - only his second of the season - in the middle of a 20-8 run to help the Spartans (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) pull ahead midway through the second half.
Izzo said Dawson and Payne wouldn't be charged for the altercation that began over what Dawson said were comments he made to assistant coaches about leaving practice gear in his room.
Their absences gave Penn State (8-9, 0-5) an opening to stay close much of the night. Jermaine Marshall scored 22 of his career-high 29 points after halftime, and added 10 rebounds.
D.J. Newbill also had a career high with 27 points, shooting 8 of 12 from the field and 11 of 15 from the foul line.
"The first half I thought we did a good job. I thought we played hard, did some good things and mixed up our defenses," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said.
"But in the second half, Payne comes in and it goes from two or three points to `Bam!," he added. "Fade away; fade away and rebound, 3, layup and one - what a sequence."
Marshall's layup with 15:16 left gave the Nittany Lions a 36-35 lead, riling up a Jordan Center crowd eager to see an upset.
But Payne answered with a layup, and the Spartans never looked back. Penn State fell behind by 16 points in the second half before pulling to 73-68-with 1:27 left on a basket by Marshall.
Michigan State went 8 of 10 from the free throw line the rest of the way to hold on.
"We've got to do it on defense," Marshall said. "We've got to play better on defense."
Michigan State center Derrick Nix finished with 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting, while Dawson had five points and five rebounds. Five Spartans scored in double figures.
The day got off to a rough start after the argument between Dawson and Payne escalated into an exchange of punches in a second-floor lobby of a Penn State campus hotel, before the Spartans boarded a bus for the Jordan Center.
Police were called after a wall was dented at the hotel. The players were expected to pay for the damage.
Two Penn State students dressed in green behind a basket poked fun at the sparring Spartans, swaying and singing "Why can't we be friends?" during a foul shot.
Payne had the last laugh.
Until he entered the game, the Spartans looked disjointed at times on offense and rushed shots in the first half. Penn State limited Michigan State's second-chance points.
The Nittany Lions got several good looks in the post, but were haunted by season-long shooting woes early. Still, Penn State finished 48 percent shooting including 55 percent after halftime (15 of 27).
Newbill found success driving the lane in the first half with Payne and Dawson - Michigan State's top two shot-blockers - stuck on the bench. But the final 16 minutes of the game belonged to Payne, who is on a weeklong roll. Payne was averaging 12 points and shooting 84 percent (11 of 13) over his previous two games entering Wednesday.
Izzo also apologized and did not condone his players' behavior. But he also said the altercation drew heightened attention because of social media - at one point holding up his cell phone while speaking with reporters.
The scuffle was like other minor scraps that have occurred over years between teammates at times, Izzo said.
"It was a disappointing thing, one of those things ... Again don't take this wrong, but if it wasn't for the Twitter era, it would be just another day," Izzo said. "Unfortunately, the fight was in a hallway."
Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP
Updated January 16, 2013
In the latest edition of the "It Is What It Is" podcast, Chris Price and CSNNE's Mike Giardi take a look at the Patriots offseason on both sides of the ball, try and get a handle on which new guys will make an impact first, and whether or not the Patriots have altered their style when it comes to drafting and developing wide receivers.
Mike Florio joined the program to discuss the Jets decision to release Tim Tebow, he said the situation is as disaster all around for the Jets and that the problems begins with owner Woody Johnson. Mike also said that he was disappointed with the Pats moving back in the first round.
One of the hardest working men in the biz, Mike Petraglia aka "Trags", sits down with Butch Stearns live in Foxborough to help break down all the latest Pats moves. He discusses his reaction to the trade in Round 1 and the guys those picks produced. Also, the boys talk about the decent trade the Pats made in acquiring LeGarrette Blount from Tampa Bay for Jeff Demps and a 7th rounder.
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Stephen A. joined the program to discuss the trade rumors he has reported regarding a possible trade including Doc Rivers and the Clippers. Stephen A. also told the guys that he has heard that Danny and Doc may be tiring of working together.
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John Farrell postgame press conference
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Barry joined the guys to help breakdown the Bruins overtime win last night in game one. Barry said that he has rarely seen a team dominate as much as the Bruins yet be forced to an overtime.
Boomer joined the program to discuss the tough loss for his beloved Rangers. Boomer told the guys that Lundqvist will be better in game two and predicted a seven game series.
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Andy Brickley joins the show to discuss the Bruins Game 1 win over the Rangers, the play of the three young Bruins defensemen, and the fatigue Jagr has shown on the ice.
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Daily Planet Wednesday May 8th
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Sauce Man stylings!
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