Spartans in control for 10th win in row
Nick Ward had 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 6 Michigan State to a 71-56 win over Penn State on Sunday in State College, Pa.
Matt McQuaid added 15 points and Cassius Winston chipped in 11 for the Spartans (15-2, 6-0 Big Ten), who have won 10 straight. They also beat the Nittany Lions (7-10, 0-6) for the 10th consecutive time.
Kenny Goins added 10 rebounds for the Spartans, who trailed for only 10 seconds of the game and led by as many as 21 with 6:44 to play.
None of that seemed to impress coach Tom Izzo, however.
“Maybe we're all talking too much about how good we are,” Izzo said. “We're not that good.”
But the Spartans were good enough to take control just over five minutes into the first half with a relentless possession.
Fueled by a pair of offensive rebounds from Goins and Xavier Tillman, the Spartans controlled the ball for nearly 40 seconds and took the lead for good when Winston pinpointed a bounce pass through traffic to Goins, who finished with a right-handed dunk. Goins' jam sparked a 28-14 run for the Spartans, who led 40-24 at halftime.
Lamar Stevens led Penn State (7-10, 0-6) with 20 points.
Reaching parity: The teams leading the AP Top 25 spent the week piling up victories or surviving close calls, most notably when top-ranked Duke posted a last-second win at No. 13 Florida State.
Things didn't go nearly so well for teams in the second half of the poll.
In the latest sign of what could be another unpredictable March, 12 of the 15 teams outside the top 10 lost at least once and combined for 17 losses. That included five teams losing twice: No. 14 Mississippi State, No. 16 Ohio State, No. 20 Iowa State, No. 24 St. John's and No. 25 TCU.
The only ranked teams outside the top 10 to avoid losses were No. 18 Kentucky, No. 19 Buffalo and No. 21 Marquette, setting the stage for some significant changes in Monday's new poll.