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Michigan comeback falls short at Penn State after John Beilein gets ejected

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The Wolverines trailed 40-27 at the break and Beilein got tossed. That led to a fiery second half comeback.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Penn State Linsey Fagan-USA TODAY Sports

John Beilein got tossed for the first time in 33 years. It was that type of first half for Michigan at Penn State.

After Zavier Simpson got blasted on a screen at the top of the key, the Michigan head man let the refs have it. He persisted after a technical, so lead official Paul Szelc tossed him.

Down 13 at the half without their fearless leader, the sixth-ranked Wolverines couldn’t recover as they dropped a 75-69 decision Tuesday night at Bryce Jordan Center.

The Nittany Lions got just their second win of conference play, while Michigan dropped to 22-3. Penn State last beat a ranked Michigan team back in 2013, when the Pat Chambers’ crew topped the No. 4 Wolverines 84-78.

The hosts out-hustled the visitors from the start. Penn State won the rebounding battle 35-to-25, including a 12-to-4 advantage on the offensive boards. This generated blah more shots and fueled the early lead.

The offense in the first 20 minutes was a comedy of errors. Simpson missed four threes, including an ill-advised step back. Simpson and Eli Brooks struggled with Penn State’s half-court zone press, leading to six turnovers.

Meanwhile, Jon Teske couldn’t deal with Lamar Stevens. The junior forward tallied 26 points, including 15 in the opening frame. Myles Dread also converted from behind the arc, canning 5-of-8 en route to 17 of his own.

Without Beilein, assistant coach Saddi Washington assumed head coaching duties. The team chipped away at the lead, eventually trailing 55-51 with 8:21 left. Charles Matthews led the way with 24 points on 8-of-11 shots, including a trio of triples.

Jordan Poole then badly missed two straight threes, allowing the Nittany Lions to push the lead back to double-digits. Michigan clawed to the bitter end, getting within 73-69 in the final minute before bowing out.

The Wolverines shot 51 percent from the field, but 12 total giveaways crippled the comeback effort. Meanwhile, Penn State shot 24-of-52 from the field, as well as 40 percent from three.

All that combined for the third loss of the year, and subsequently the third court rush.

With the upset, Michigan is now tied atop the Big Ten with Michigan State. They have to right the ship quickly, as No. 24 Maryland comes to Crisler Center Saturday after a decisive victory over No. 12 Purdue.