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MSU defeats Purdue 84-61 in Big Ten home opener


Sophomore guard/forward Branden Dawson steps back for a jump shot Saturday, Jan. 5, 2012, at Breslin Center. MSU defeated Purdue 84-61 during the Spartans’ Big Ten home opener. Adam Toolin/The State News

The rugged, neck-and-neck Big Ten play expected in one of the nation’s toughest basketball conferences lasted only a half in the Spartans’ conference home opener.

The No. 18 MSU men’s basketball team (12-3 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) used a dominant second half surge to turn a close game lopsided, overpowering Purdue (7-7, 1-1) 84-61 Saturday afternoon at Breslin Center.

A tight and physical first half saw both teams exchange blows and struggle to gain any extended momentum.

After nailing a 3-pointer on their opening possession, Purdue never led by more than one point and MSU headed into halftime in front 36-30, its largest lead to that point.

Freshman guard Gary Harris, a Fishers, Ind., native, led the way in his first game against his home state school as one of five Spartans to score in double figures, with 11 first half points before finishing with 22 points on six 3-pointers.

Sophomore guard Branden Dawson, also an Indiana native, produced his second double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while sophomore guard Travis Trice added 12 points, four rebounds and two assists as a catalyst off the bench.

With the game tied at 39, the Spartans generated the game’s first sizable run, outscoring Purde 20-4 to take their first double-digit lead, 59-43 with 9:10 remaining.

From there, the rout was on, as MSU used a 12-5 run to build a 71-48 lead with six minutes remaining, putting the game out of reach.

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