Positioning in the Big Ten standings was on the line when the third-ranked Purdue Boilermakers visited Michigan State at the Breslin Center. A win for Purdue would mean holding on to their sole claim to first place in the Big Ten. For the Spartans, a victory would bring them into a three-way tie for first place with Purdue and Rutgers.
The Spartans fought through a tight game with their ranked opponents. Ultimately, MSU was unable to upset Purdue, falling 64-63.
The MSU offense was slow in the first half. The team shot 42 percent from the floor and 25 percent from beyond the arc. MSU also struggled with turnover issues in the first half. The Spartans committed eight turnovers in the opening half, including four in the first three minutes. That number easily could have been higher but was not, due to multiple miscommunications and poor reads early in the game.
A 10-0 run midway through the first half put Purdue ahead. The Spartans struggled to keep pace with the Boilermakers’ offense. Purdue led by as many as 13 points. However, a late run at the close of the half tightened the score. Michigan State guard Tyson Walker hit multiple big shots, including the three-pointer that cut Purdue’s lead to 27-25 at halftime.
A 7-0 run by MSU to open up the second half led to the Spartans taking the lead 32-27. MSU’s early seven points completed a 12-0 run stemming back from the end of the first half. However, Purdue responded with five unanswered points to tie the score. Both teams exchanged leads throughout the second half. With 11 seconds left in the game, Walker hit a midrange jumper to give MSU the lead. Purdue countered by finding star big man Zach Edey in the paint for a shot at the rim, stealing the lead back with 2.2 seconds left. A buzzer-beating shot attempt by Walker was off the mark.
Michigan State could not contain Zach Edey
Purdue’s center has dominated this season. The 7-4 center averages 21.3 points and 13.2 rebounds per game. MSU made Edey work for his points, but the Spartans ultimately could not keep the big man from getting to the basket.
Edey finished the first half with a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double. Michigan State center Mady Sissoko played admirably against Edey. Sissoko forced the Purdue star to start his post-ups further away from the basket. He played physical defense enticing Edey to kick the ball out to the perimeter. When Edey did make it to the basket, Sissoko did a good job contesting his attempts and forcing some missed shots.
Edey finished the game with a career-high 32 points against MSU. The big man tallied 17 rebounds as well. The Spartans continued to force difficult shots on Edey, but he was able to fight through contact and dominate the paint.
Tyson Walker’s big game cannot lead Michigan State to an upset victory
Walker scored almost at will for the Spartans. The guard finished with a season-high 30 points in the game, nearly matching Edey’s 32. Walker produced numerous big shots throughout the game. While he missed his final look at the basket, the Spartans would not have been in a situation to take the lead if it had not been for Walkers’ big game.
The Michigan State Spartans home stand continues as they take on the 23rd-ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Jan. 19. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. EST on FS1.
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(Featured Image Credit: Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK)