NOAH TRISTER, AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — 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 of 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 its three-game winning streak snapped.
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.
Payne missed Michigan State’s loss to Michigan late last month, and the crowd gave him a nice ovation when he reported to the scorer’s table to check in for the first time Thursday. Payne entered with 16:21 left in the first half and made his first shot, from just inside the 3-point line.
He was active throughout the first half but also seemed tired at times. Perhaps that was to be expected after Payne was out for about a month.
The Spartans went on an 11-0 run to take a 22-8 lead. A 3-pointer by Kaminski made it 35-16, and the Nittany Lions never threatened.
Matt Costello capped the first half with a dunk while being fouled with 12 seconds left. His three-point play gave Michigan State a 46-30 lead.
It was 61-44 after Kaminski’s 3-pointer from near the top of the key banked in off the glass, and a 3-pointer by Gary Harris pushed the lead to 20.
Kaminski went 7 of 9 from the field, 5 of 6 from 3-point range. That enabled the Spartans to withstand Appling’s absence and 5-for-16 shooting by Harris.
Michigan State has won 20 games for the 14th time in the last 17 seasons.
Frazier needed two assists to set Penn State’s career record, but he only managed one, tying the mark of 600 by Freddie Barnes. Frazier went 9 of 14 from the field and 3 for 4 from 3-point range. The rest of the team was 2 for 18 from beyond the arc.
Penn State’s D.J. Newbill scored 17 points but missed all seven of his attempts from 3-point range.
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