INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Talor Battle scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half to help Penn State defeat Michigan State 61-48 in the Big Ten tournament semifinals on Saturday and advance to the final for the first time.
Battle made six 3-pointers, including four during a 2:35 stretch in the second half that put the Nittany Lions (19-13) in control for good.
Tim Frazier had 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists for sixth-seeded Penn State, which will play No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Ohio State on Sunday for an automatic NCAA tournament berth. The Nittany Lions haven’t reached the NCAA tournament since
Kalin Lucas scored 16 points and Durrell Summers added 11 for Michigan State (19-14), which shot 21 percent in the second half.
The Spartans were coming off a 74-56 win over No. 9 Purdue on Friday.
The Nittany Lions have allowed 45.3 points per game in their three tournament wins.
Penn State reached the Big Ten tournament semifinals in 2000 and 2001 but hadn’t been that far since. The Nittany Lions have won seven of their past nine games to create a new chapter in their history.
The Spartans shot well early, just like they did against Purdue. Summers scored eight points in the first four minutes to help Michigan State take an 11-2 lead.
Penn State rallied, and a pair of fast break layups by Frazier tied the score at 21.
A layup by Battle gave Penn State its first lead of the game, 23-21, with 2:20 left in the first half. After Michigan State’s
Derrick Nix tied the game again, Battle drained a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to put his team up 26-23 with 48.9 seconds left in the half. Michigan’s Keith Appling answered with a 3 with 11 seconds remaining to tie the score 26-all at halftime. Lucas had three points and four turnovers at the break.
Battle made back-to-back 3-pointers early in the second half during an 8-0 run that gave Penn State a 36-29 lead. Jeff Brooks’ 3-pointer with 9:06 remaining gave Penn State a 49-35 lead, and the Nittany Lions remained in control from there.
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