EAST LANSING, Mich. – Adreian Payne scored 12 points in his return from a foot injury, and No. 9 Michigan State kept pace atop the Big Ten with an 82-67 victory over Penn State on Thursday night.
Payne hadn’t played since Jan. 7 because of a sprained foot, but although he didn’t start Thursday, he did play 18 minutes, going 5-for-9 from the field. The Spartans (20-3, 9-1 Big Ten) were still nowhere near full strength. Keith Appling, who has been dealing with a wrist problem, sat out, and Branden Dawson is still out because of a broken hand.
Kenny Kaminski scored a career-high 19 points for the Spartans.
Tim Frazier scored 22 points for Penn State (12-11, 3-7), which had won three in a row.
Despite all of its injury woes, Michigan State is tied for first with rival Michigan atop the Big Ten. Everyone else in the conference is at least three games back.
The crowd gave Payne a nice ovation when he reported to the scorer’s table to check in for the first time. “It felt good to be back on the court,” he said. “Overall, I’m satisfied.”
The Spartans went on an 11-0 run to take a 22-8 lead. A three-pointer by Kaminski made it 35-16, and the Nittany Lions never threatened.
Kaminski went 7-for-9 from the field and 5-for-6 from three-point range. That enabled the Spartans to withstand Appling’s absence and a 5-for-16 shooting night by Gary Harris.
Denzel Valentine had 11 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he has no idea if Appling will be ready for Sunday’s game at Wisconsin.
“It just has been getting worse and worse,” Izzo said. “He falls a lot. I told him he’s got to go to gymnastics class — learn how to fall without landing on your wrist. ... I know this, out of every guy I’ve got on my team, he’s the toughest.”