PREVIEW: Purdue's Swanigan to pay a visit to MSU, the school he once committed to
MSU fans and freshman forward Miles Bridges will get a look at an old friend in Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan on Tuesday at the Breslin Center. While he is now a foe to the green and white, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound sophomore forward was once a commit to MSU, but split to a school closer to his hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind.
A season ago, Swanigan averaged 10.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. After a lot of talk about entering the NBA draft, Swanigan decided to return for his sophomore season. While the sophomore slump has affected guys like sophomore guard Matt McQuaid, Swanigan is more dominant than ever, something Izzo said he has been working on when he first scouted him in eighth grade.
“I’ll give their staff credit, but he (Swanigan) works,” Izzo said. “He’s a big man that works, he works on his game. I can tell you about some incredible sessions I sat and watched him by himself. So anybody that does that, I’d respect if I hated him. I don’t hate him, but I have great respect for people who earn their keep, and he’s earned his keep.”
Growing up, Swanigan played for the same Amateur Athletic Union, or AAU, team as Bridges, but Swanigan played for the group one year older than Bridges.
This season, Swanigan has torn through opponent after opponent, leading No. 20 Purdue (16-4, 5-2 Big Ten) in both points, 18.5, and rebounds, 12.5. His double-double average has led him to 16 this season, the best in the nation. In four different games, Swanigan has scored 20-plus points and grabbed 20-plus rebounds.
“I think he’s going to come at us even harder just because he committed to us,” Bridges said. “We need this win to just get back on track.”
MSU men’s basketball (12-8, 4-3 Big Ten) has dropped three of their last five games, Purdue being the opposite, winning four of their last five.
Though Swanigan provides both height and width, there are taller trees in the forest for this Boilermaker team.
Junior center Isaac Haas stands a whopping 7-foot-2 and weighs 290 pounds. MSU’s largest player on the court, freshman forward Nick Ward, stands at 6-foot-8 and weighs 250 pounds.
Haas has been coming off the bench for Purdue, however it has just come with the Matt Painter scheme. Haas logs just less than 22 minutes per game and is second in scoring at 13.6 points per game.
In Haas’ starting spot is Vince Edwards, averaging just south of 12 points per game. Another Edwards, Carsen Edwards, unrelated to Vince, is coming off a hot two-game stretch of 14 points and 13 points, earning his first Big Ten Freshman of the Week, an honor usually held by either Ward or Bridges.
MSU will be playing its second game in just four days. This quick turnaround, junior guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. said, is nothing they haven’t dealt with before, referring to the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas earlier this season.
To help out the front court, Nairn said the guards will have to help dig and double team the Purdue bigs while being able to get back to shooters.
“It’s going to be a really tough battle for us,” Nairn said. “It’s going to be a game where everybody has to help each other.”
A traditional Painter team has controlled inside scoring with big forwards, just like last year with former player A.J. Hammons, currently a Dallas Maverick. However, this season, Painter has been able to see production from their guards with sharp shooters.
Leading the Big Ten in 3-point percentage this season at 40.6 percent, Purdue has an inside-out game that has bowled over opponents. This combination puts them at second in scoring offense in the Big Ten, and with a better than average defense, Purdue is first in scoring margin in the Big Ten at a plus-17.1 points.
Their best shooter and the team’s glue, junior guard Dakota Mathias, is No. 3 for the Boilermakers from the three, shooting 47.2 percent. He also leads the team in assists with 4.2.
MSU will look for fifth-year senior guard Eron Harris to have another good game — 21 points last time out — while hoping the usual Bridges and Ward combo stays intact.
The last time these two team met, MSU outlasted Purdue 66-62 to win the Big Ten Tournament Championship.
The game is set to tipoff at 7 p.m. at the Breslin Center and will be televised on ESPN2.