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Sparta Burns to the Ground!
BallHype: hype it up! Thursday, January 31, 2008

TAKE THAT Spartans, now we've officially avenged our losses to the Illini and Spartans in football this year.

11,159 fans witnessed a landmark in Nittany Lion basketball yesterday night as the underdog Penn State carrying a 6 game losing streak beat the leading torch bearer of the Big Ten, Michigan State. The significance? The last home win against any team ranked in the top-25 was in 2001. Thats 7 years since the Lions last beat #6 Illinois on their home court. Thats 7 years of ranked AND unranked teams marching into Bryce Jordan Center and stomping all over the Nitts. 7 years since the student section even had the opportunity to rush the court so there was no doubting the emotion that erupted on the court after last nights win.
And I was fortunate enough to a
ctually see this one in person.

I'd have to admit, the real reason why I was actually in attendance was because all the student ticket sales were being donated to THON and who doesn't support curing cancer. You might as well admit you hate America right now if you don't want to cure cancer. But I was treated to something much better.

Our group never even made it to the game by tipoff, having pre-gamed in the parking lot until we were 10 minutes late and then made our way into Bryce Jordan Center. By then the Lions were leading 17-15 marking the start of a surprising night for the Lion faithful. More stunning was when we walked over to Portal 30 (where the student section has to walk into), the usher told us the section is actually full and we need to head over to Portal 8 and fill up the student section in the upper deck. Wow, honestly? The student section is 'full'? I've been randomly attending basketball games for the last 4 years and I have never heard the word 'full' and 'basketball' used in the same sentence.

Although, in that 4 year span, the only basketball victory I was in attendance for was against an equally lowly Northwestern squad.
Unfortunately there are some of us who aren't too thrilled with heights. There really isn't a bad seat in Bryce Jordan Center but you really are looking straight down causing a little height anxiety. But right before halftime, Penn State hit back to back 3s and made defensive stops on the other end sending the majority of the 11,000 in attendance into a frenzy. I have not heard a roar like that since the THON finale last year.

Who could have expected the Lions to be leading the #7 Spartans at halftime. Not everyone was overly excited though, it was 3 days ago when Penn State was tied with the Buckeyes at halftime before being blown out down the stretch.

In a very un-Nittany Lion like fashion, the basketball team came roaring out of the gates and extended the lead to 10, winning 53-43 with 16 minutes to go. As if following the same Hollywood script, the Spartans chipped away at the 10 point lead and retook the lead by 2, deflating the palpable emotion that swirled inside the BJC.

But who knew, the Lions just kept fighting back point after point, and with clutch free throw shooting to end the game, the Lions did the unthinkable. They upset the conference leaders in a Spartan upset.

What a game. Boy I haven't been this excited at a basketball game since watching the George Mason upset 2 years ago in the NCAA tournament. Hopefully they can take this momentum on the road against an equally impressive Purdue squad. This young Nittany Lion team needed a game like this to prove to themselves they can win without Claxton and against the odds. Way to go Nittwitts! A well fought win.

Theres the Ohio State upset in 2005 when it comes to football, and now theres the Michigan State upset in 2007 for basketball. If only this Lion squad didn't give up after the Claxton injury, we could be sitting in the upper echelon of the Big Ten today with this upset.

The crowd was amazing, not only do you have the most faithful and loyal crowd on hand for a game no one expects a win out of, they actually introduced the Spartans to a small degree of home court advantage possibly for the first time at the BJC. Who knew the place could rock when the basketball team moved to the BJC from Rec Hall and endured a decade of futility. With 30 seconds to go, many of the students that were forced into the upper deck student section began to make their way down to the lower concourse lining the walkways anticipating a court rushing. It was a sight watching all the walkways of the lower concourse begin to fill up rather than empty out with fans ready to explode with a fury of emotion.

Notable Quotes:
"It's just one of those feelings that you can talk about forever. When you are done playing the game and everyone storms the court and are holding people up." - Talor Battle
"We have had some crazy things happen and our kids hung in there and fought and made some plays tonight and made some free throws when we had to. Hopefully we got a little confidence back and you know, it was great for our fans and for our students. The students were tremendous. People came out even though we lost a bunch in a row. Our kids laid it on the line and we were able to win a game. So, I am very happy for our players and the fans." - Ed DeChellis
"Really, when I get home there will be a lot of blame for Michigan State, but the credit should go to Penn State, what they did, how they played, and the energy they played with." - Tom Izzo
Talk about a classy guy. Tom Izzo is the standard bearer of class all the way.

Say hello to my winning combination.
This will be my A squad for now until we break this winning streak.
posted by Nittany White Out @ 9:39 PM  
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