EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Makeshift lineups have been the norm for the Michigan State Spartans this season. No matter who coach Tom Izzo puts on the floor, the team keeps chugging along at the top of the Big Ten.
Redshirt freshman forward Kenny Kaminski scored a career-high 19 points and undermanned Michigan State gained a share of the Big Ten lead with a 82-67 thumping of the Penn State Nittany Lions on Thursday night at Breslin Center.
No. 9 Michigan State (20-3 overall, 9-1 Big Ten) pulled even with rival Michigan atop the conference standings despite the absence of senior point guard Keith Appling, who missed the first game of his career with a right wrist injury. The Spartans were already without forward Branden Dawson, who sat out his fourth consecutive game with a broken hand.
Izzo used his 12th different lineup in the last 18 games, yet the Spartans dominated.
"That does a lot to a team," he said. "All five starters have been out. It has been hard on me and my staff and it's been hard on the players."
Fortunately, one of his top players traded street clothes for a uniform. Senior forward Adreian Payne, who was sidelined for the previous seven games with a right foot sprain, scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half.
"That just shows how talented our team is as a whole," said sophomore guard Travis Trice, who had seven assists while starting in Appling's spot. "You've seen the whole year we've played without guys or had certain lineups out there. Tonight, you're missing (Dawson) and Keith and you've got AP coming back after being off a month, so it just shows how good everybody else is."
Sophomore guard Denzel Valentine was, according to Izzo, phenomenal most of the game. He supplied his fourth career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds and also had six of the team's 22 assists on 28 made field goals.
"That's the way we played early in the year, a lot of assists for every game," Izzo said. "We were leading the country at one time. That's one of the things we haven't done as good of a job (recently), moving the ball and running. Tonight, we ran better."
Spartans sophomore guard Gary Harris, the conference's leading scorer, contributed 14 points after a slow start. Michigan State, which had lost two of its last three, clinched its 14th 20-win season in the last 17 years.
Senior point guard Tim Frazier led Penn State (12-11, 3-7), which saw its three-game winning streak snapped, with 22 points. Frazier added an assist to tie the school career record of 600 set by Freddie Barnes (1989-92). Junior guard D.J. Newbill chipped in 17 points.
Penn State shot 36.8 percent from the field and got out-rebounded 42-30.
"They came and played with a lot of fire and a lot of passion," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said of the Spartans. "It's not about the threes, it's more about the extra rebounds. They got a lot of extra possessions and a lot of second-chance points and that just breaks your back, it breaks your spirit."
Harris scored just three points on 1-for-7 shooting during the first half, but it did not matter as the Spartans raced to a 46-30 halftime lead. Kaminski filled the scoring void with 13 points as Michigan State shot 50 percent from the field and made 11 of 13 free throws.
The Spartans led by double digits throughout the second half.
"We've got to learn from this defeat because it's important for us to learn," Chambers said. "It's not one of those burn-the-DVD type things. We actually have to look at it and say we got out-hustled, we got out-worked and why did it happen? We've got to figure it out."
NOTES: New Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell attended the game. ... Michigan State won 43 of its last 47 games at Breslin Center and was 19-1 against Penn State all time in East Lansing. ... The Nittany Lions' 75.2 points per game is their highest average since 2000-01, when they averaged 76.8. ... The Spartans were 13-0 when out-rebounding their opponent. ... Penn State has not won four straight games since 2009. ... Five of the Nittany Lions' last seven games were decided by four points or less. ... Michigan State started 10 different players this season. ... Both teams return to action Sunday, with the Spartans traveling to Wisconsin and the Nittany Lions hosting Illinois.