EAST LANSING - Draymond Green became only the third player in Michigan State history to record a triple-double when he went for 15 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists during the Spartans' much-needed 75-57 victory over Penn State, Thursday at Breslin Center.
Green joined Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Charlie Bell as the only Spartans to get double figures in those three categories in a single game. Bell did it once in 2001, and Magic did it eight times.
"I'm very proud of that," Green said. "It's something I've always had a goal of doing. Now I get to be mentioned in the same breath as Charlie Bell and Magic Johnson, and those are two National Champions here so I need to get one of those now."
Green notched his assist with a full-court pass to a streaking Delvon Roe in the final seconds. Roe and the rest of Green's teammates knew the junior from Saginaw only needed one assist to secure the triple-double. But Penn State's players knew it too. Roe, moving at full speed, was undercut violently by Penn State's Billy Oliver while connecting on the lay-up which gave Green his 10th assist.
Roe, who has undergone several knee surgeries in his injury-plagued college career, went down hard, with his right knee bending awkwardly beneath him as he landed. Roe pounded the floor with his fist as he lay on the court in pain, with MSU trainers and head coach Tom Izzo huddled around him.
Roe eventually popped up, walked off the court and told a concerned Green that he was all right. But Roe continued to limp as he exited the court following the game.
"It was quite an exciting moment to see Draymond get a triple-double since it doesn't happen here very often," Izzo said. "It was kind of a sad moment to see Delvon (Roe) get undercut on that. I don't know what his status is. That was the only negative of the night, to be honest with you."
Izzo wasn't completely comfortable with the manner in which the Spartans and Green went about securing the triple-double.
"It was like the Cleaves thing," Izzo said in reference to MSU's running up the score on Michigan in 2000 in order for Cleaves to set the all-time career assist record. "I'm not big on that. (Penn State coach) Eddie (DeChellis) is a good friend of mine, and I said if we work the ball around and get it into DayDay's hands ... it's something that rarely happens. And then we said, 'You know what? We can't do it because they were going to foul,' and I don't blame them."
But then came the opening on the long pass, despite MSU being comfortably ahead.
DeChellis was asked if he was bothered by the MSU's late attempt for extra offense.
"I didn't have any control over that," he said. "Green is a good kid and a good player so I am glad for him."
Izzo felt it was appropriate for Green to feel good about his game, and this game.
"When you talk to a player about becoming a complete player and today I had a film session, just me and him, after the pregame meal, and we looked at the things he did last year, the passes, the help defense, the post moves, the tip-ins and the things we don't think he is doing as well this year, and then he comes out tonight an does them all, you want to give him a reward at the end.
"It was one of those unique moments in time and I think that was okay with everybody."
The Spartans (14-10, 6-6 Big Ten) avoided losing three straight for the second time in less than a month. The Nittany Lions (13-11, 5-7) have lost a season-high three straight.
Penn State's Talor Battle scored 19 points and Jeff Brooks had 15 points after missing a game with a dislocated right shoulder.
Kalin Lucas scored 15 of his 24 points in the first half as Michigan State built a 20-point lead.
"It was very important because a lot of people are down on us and it would be easy for us to get down ourselves and take the easy way out but we refuse to do that," Green said.
Green and Izzo set it as a goal for the junior captain to go for a triple-double at some point this year. Izzo felt Green had the skill set to get it done.
Green closed the first half with an assist on a Durrell Summers 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give Michigan State a 41-21 lead.
"At halftime I knew I had 7, 7 and 6," Green said. "Once I got the rebounds, I knew I could focus on getting some rebounds and points. But I also wanted to keep on playing within the team and within the system and not just be going for my own things.
"But if I had 1, 1, and 1, I would still be happy to get this win because it was a much-needed win for us. It was very important."