MSU leads Purdue 36-30 at half

After an aggressive first half of play, the No. 18 MSU basketball team leads Purdue 36-30.

Coming off a loss to No. 9 Minnesota on New Year’s Eve, the Spartans (11-3 overall, 0-1 Big ten) returned to their home floor with a vengeance in search of their first conference victory. However, standing in their way is a confident Purdue team (7-6, 1-0) fresh off an upset victory against No. 11 Illinois.

The game opened with back-to-back 3-pointers, the first by Purdue guard Ronnie Johnson answered quickly by freshman guard Gary Harris, which set the tone for effective perimeter shooting the half.

Harris and sophomore guard Travis Trice drained all five of MSU’s 3-pointers, leading the team to finish the half with a 55.6 percent shooting in the category.

Harris finished as the Spartans’ leading scorer in the half with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field, while Trice and fellow freshman guard Denzel Valentine chipped in eight points each.

Junior guard Keith Appling battled the lockdown defense of Johnson and guard/forward D.J. Byrd for much of the half. Byrd looked as strong as he has for much of the season, leading the Boilermakers in scoring with 11 points to go along with four rebounds.

Following a back-and-forth half which saw each team hold the lead for a time, Harris drained a 3-pointer at the 4:44 mark to cap a 7-0 run and give MSU its largest lead of the half.

The Spartans held Purdue without a field goal for the final 3:37 of the half to head into the locker room with the lead.

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