East Lansing, MI – Michigan State brought out the same starting lineup as it did against Rutgers Tuesday night.
An even tougher matchup than the Scarlet Knights due to Purdue's size and length, namely Trevion Williams (6-foot-10) and Zach Edey (7-foot-4), but by shuffling its big men and shutting the Boilermakers three-point shooters down, the Spartans would be okay.
It's a gameplan that worked for most of the first half; Williams sat on the bench with two fouls, and Purdue went 0-12 from deep.
More than anything, the Spartans worked defensively and were stringing some strong performances together as they held Purdue scoreless for over eight minutes and blocked four shots, making it challenging inside (Marcus Bingham Jr. credited with three of those).
On the other end, Michigan State started slow but went on a 15-2 run lasting 7:27 and ended the half with another 9-point run plus a 31-16 lead while Purdue went 0-5 (PU entered the game holding the conference's worst scoring offense).
MSU took care of the ball (four turnovers) and advantage of Purdue's giveaways, dropping an additional nine points in the bucket.
The more impressive aspect is that Michigan State played well in a low possession game, made 52% of its attempts, and held the Boilermakers to .552 points per possession.
To start the second half, Purdue had an 8-0 run of their own and forced MSU into a bit of a scoring drought before the Spartans recovered, still leading 36-24 with less than 15 minutes left in regulation.
But PU was far from losing; Williams scored four straight for Purdue, cutting MSU's lead to 38-33 with 12 minutes on the clock.
Then Michigan State went more than six minutes (which exceeded twelve at one point) without a field goal while turning it over 13 times.
As Foster Loyer dribbled the ball off his leg out of bounds, and Joshua Langford incidentally kicked it out for another turnover, the Boilermakers were seriously threatening to take over a game they hadn't been in control of yet.
5:37 – that's what the clock read when Purdue officially came back after being down 17-points to tie it, 43-43.
Even in a mostly empty Breslin Center, the shift in momentum was apparent.
You could feel it slipping away from Michigan State.
Someone needed to step up in a big way.
First, redshirt junior Joey Hauser ended a 12-minute drought with a 3-pointer; next, A.J. Hoggard slipped to the basket and was fouled.
The freshman point guard drained both free-throws.
Tom Izzo elected to go small against Williams and Purdue to be more versatile on offense, resulting in some late-game back-and-forth action.
An interesting move considering the size advantage the Boilermakers had, and one that proved costly.
Izzo would stick with that group in the waning seconds, providing Purdue's bigs with easier matchups.
Ultimately, it led to Williams scoring the game-winning basket and Aaron Henry missing a runner on the other end, as MSU fell 54-55 in a brutal loss.
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