Tom Izzo got his bucket-list game.
But the legendary Michigan State didn’t get a win.
In the first Big Ten regular-season game ever played at the Palestra, Penn State rode strong performances from Philly natives Lamar Stevens and Tony Carr to a 72-63 win over the visiting Spartans on Saturday afternoon.
Stevens had a game-high 18 points and six rebounds while Carr had 14. Another Philly native, Mike Watkins, finished with 11 points. Payton Banks, whose sister played her home games at the Palestra for Penn, also had 11 after scoring 20 in the Nittany Lions’ last game at the Palestra — a 63-57 win over Drexel a little over a year ago.
Nick Ward led Michigan State with 16 points.
The unique game, played in front of a sold-out crowd and shown on ESPN, was set up because Penn State coach Patrick Chambers wanted a home game in Philly since six of his players hail from the region. And Izzo wanted the chance to coach in the historic gym for the first time in his legendary career.
Both got their wish but only Chambers walked away with the win as the Nittany Lions (10-7, 2-2) snapped Michigan State’s four-game winning streak and handed the Spartans (11-6, 3-1) their first Big Ten loss of the season.
Leading by 11 with under five minutes to go, Penn State had its lead whittled down to six before Carr hit a big bucket and the Nittany Lions came through with a couple of key steals to fend off the perennial powerhouse in front of a packed crowd filled with fans who braved the snow.
Earlier, the venerable gym got loud after Banks drilled a three-pointer to put Penn State up 27-19 with 7:45 left in the first half and even louder when another Banks' trey gave the Nittany Lions a 37-25 lead four minutes later.
After the Spartans pulled within five, Penn State scored the final seven points of the half — two buckets from Stevens and a three from Carr in the final seconds — to take a 44-32 lead into the break.
Penn State shot 60 percent from the field in the first half while committing only three turnovers.
More coming …