WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Trevion Williams is a veteran now, and he's seen it all. Nothing bothers him anymore, either. Pressure? It's a thing of the past.
Williams totally dominated for Purdue Tuesday night, scoring 28 points and leading the Boilermakers to a critical 75-65 victory over Michigan State at Mackey Arena. The win raised their record to 14-8 overall and 9-6 in the Big Ten and it was their fourth straight win over Michigan State, the longest streak in the series since 1993-97.
"I know the team relies on me,'' Williams said when asked about feeling the pressure of the moment and carrying the load for Purdue. "Playing with Carsen (Edwards) so long, you don't feel pressure anymore. With some of those high-level guys, you just get used to it. Me and Eric (Hunter) had to come in freshman year and be ready to play. Pressure isn't a thing anymore."
Williams said that Purdue coach Matt Painter stressed to him and freshman backup Zach Edey that this game would be won inside. They matched Michigan State's physicality and won the head-to-head showdowns easily. Edey had 10 points while Williams rested, getting all that in just eight minutes of playing time.
"Going into the game, coach harped on me and Zach to be physical and put those guys at the rim," Williams said. "We wanted to come in and be dominant down low. We knew this game would come down to being physical, not turning the ball over, having a fight and rebounding."
Williams was 13-for-21 from the field, and his 28 points were a season-high in Big Ten games. (He had 30 against Indiana State in early December.)
Williams carried this team, to be sure.
"No one on that team could guard him," Purdue freshman Jaden Ivey said of Michigan State's efforts to stop him. "It's just that simple. He's just so versatile and the shots that he takes, they're tough shots. You can't even do anything about It."
Williams scored the first four points of the game, but the start was ugly on both sides. Through the first 15 minutes, the two teams had combined to score only 28 points, with Purdue leading 16-12. Both teams had gone through 1-for-10 shooting slumps, and it was tough on the eyes.
Both got rolling before the half ended, though, scoring a combined 29 points in just five minutes to go to the break with Purdue leading 30-27.
Williams finished the half with 12 points, but the Boilers otherwise struggled from the perimeter, missing all seven three-point attempts. That was on the heels of shooting just 2-for-17 from deep in the loss against Minnesota.
Michigan State tied the game at the 14:26 mark in the second half on a pair of Julius Marble free throws and then went ahead for the first time since the start at 42-41 on a Joey Hauser three-pointer. Aaron Henry hit a jumper for the Spartans with 6:04 to go to get within one at 57-56, but Michigan State would get no closer from there.
Williams scored seven straight points for the Boilers as they started to pull away, and when Michigan State started to foul, it was redshirt freshman Mason Gillis who answered the bell, making all eight of his free throws.
Hunter had another solid game for the Boilers, at a point in the season where they really need him. The junior point guard scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, and didn't have a single turnover in 31 minutes of playing time.
"I'm definitely looking to be more aggressive," Hunter said. "As an older guy, you see stuff we need at certain times. Before, I was a guy who made shot-clock-type plays and I've just got back to doing it.
"We knew it was going to be a scrappy game, with them trying to get in passing lanes. We just made sure we took care of the ball and gave ourselves a chance every time down."
Purdue is back in action on Saturday at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have been busy trying to make up games, and after Wednesday and the second of a back-to-back with Maryland, they will have have played six games in 10 days. The game is at 5:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on the Big Ten Network
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