EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Matt Painter likes to use the old line that when you're tired of the hole you're in, quit digging. His Purdue basketball team took that to heart on Friday night.
Despite having one of their worst shooting nights in years, the Boilermakers found a way to erase a 17-point deficit and stun No. 23 Michigan State to win on a Trevion Williams basket in the final seconds, stealing a 55-54 victory. It was Purdue's first Big Ten road win of the season, and their largest comeback victory in the league since 1987.
"That was a good road win for us," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "We didn't shoot the ball well, and we didn't play well in the first half. But anytime you can figure out a way to win, no matter how ugly it is, you're just hoping it can build confidence with your team."
Purdue had to overcome a lot. The Boilers only scored 16 points in the first half and was 0-for-12 from three-point range, and Purdue fans watching on TV were wiping blood from their eyes it was so hard to watch. They trailed 31-16 at the break and were down by 17 points in the first few minutes of the second half.
Then Trevion Williams took over.
He scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half and Purdue's defense picked up its effort, holding Michigan State scoreless from the field for a whopping 12 minutes. And after Sasha Stefanovic hit a three-pointer and Brandon Newman scored on a layup, it was suddenly tied at 43-43 with 6:28 to go.
Purdue couldn't get a lead though, but stayed within range. Eric Hunter Jr. was fouled with 11 seconds to go and made two free throws to make it 54-52 and after a turnover on the inbounds play, Williams was fouled. He made the first free throw but missed the second, and there was a scrum for the rebound. A jump ball was called, and Purdue got the ball on the alternate possession.
Inbounding the ball to Williams, he quickly took a short jumper and made it, and then Aaron Henry missed a last-second off-balance shot on the other end.
"Everybody knew the ball was going to me," said Williams, the 6-foot-10, 265-pound power forward who was also heavily recruited by Michigan State. "I just wanted to take my time with it."
It was the most unexpected of wins.
"In those last 20-seconds, they made the effort plays," junior captain Aaron Henry said. "A couple of things went their way, but I missed a free throw before that; I missed that floater at the end. It's just winning time, and we've got to grow.''
With the win, Purdue raised its record to 8-5 and 3-3 in the Big Ten. Michigan State is now 8-4 and 2-4 in the league.
Williams got his 26 points on 9-for-14 shooting and he also made 8-of-12 free throws and had nine rebounds, and was "the difference in the game,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. He was the only Boilermaker in double figures. Purdue's other starters contributed only 12 points and were just 3-for-20 from the field.
"That was one of the more disappointing losses," Izzo said. "Give Purdue credit. We didn't deserve to win," Izzo said. "They deserved to win. They made winning plays."
Purdue had lost Big Ten road games at Iowa, Rutgers and Illinois to start the league season and then missed out on a Tuesday home with Nebraska because the Cornhuskers were dealing with some COVID-19 issues. That meant another trip out on the road, but this time the result was different.
"We all know we're capable of competing against anybody in the country," Williams said.
Purdue has now won three straight games against Michigan State, and it's the longest winning streak against the Spartans since 1993-97 when Purdue won seven in a row. Purdue is 5-2 vs. Michigan State in the last seven meetings.
Next up for Purdue is Indiana on Thursday night in Bloomington. Purdue has won seven straight in the rivalry.