Written by Sean Merriman
â€œLets not win the skills test, lets not win the white-collar tests, lets win the effort related stats,â€ said Spartan head coach Tom Izzo.
That is exactly what the Spartans did on Wednesday night versus the visiting Purdue Boilermakers, dominating in nearly all-statistical categories. However, the most notable statistics came from the Spartans rebounding and hard nose defensive play.
The number twelve ranked Spartans allowed a season low 52 points and other then red shirt Freshman Marquise Gray and Matt Trannon, not one Spartan player was in any type of serious foul trouble.
The Spartans more then doubled Purdueâ€™s rebounding total (38-18) and seemed to be the first to every possible loose ball.
â€œThey were quicker to the ball and more aggressive,â€ Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. â€œA lot of it simply has to do with wanting it. Usually if you just kick somebody on the boards like that, youâ€™re going to win pretty handily.â€
It was a true team effort for the Spartans on the defensive side of the ball. However, it was the big three who stepped up again for MSU on offence. Senior Paul Davis led the Spartans with 22 points and 6 rebounds. Senior Maurice Ager had 16 points and junior Shannon Brown poured in 14.
As a team, the Spartans racked up 24 assists on 29 field goals. Sophomore point guard Drew Neitzel dished out 6 assists and Ager added 5 of his own.
The score was close for much of the first half as the Boilermakers were able to cut their deficit to just 2 points at halftime.
The game began to get a little heated midway through the second half when Purdue forward Gary Ware and MSUâ€™s Matt Trannon got tangled up going for a rebound. A series of words were exchanged between the two and both were given technical fouls.
Perhaps this gave the Spartans some firepower as they began to chip away at their lead and never looked back. The team tallied 14 of their 24 assists in the second half and Davis shot a near perfect 5-6 from the field and 6-6 from the foul line leading the Spartans to their sixth win in the last seven games.
The Spartans will travel to Minnesota on Saturday to battle the struggling Gophers who are looking for a win to give them some momentum nearing the big ten tournament.
Tom Izzoâ€™s club is currently tied for second place in conference play and with the parity shown thus far in the big ten, a win on Saturday could put the Spartans right back at the top of the standings.