Despite 23 turnovers, Spartans still able to upset No. 3 Purdue
West Lafayette, Ind. — Assist-to-turnover ratio usually is a useful stat to judge offensive efficiency.
But when the ratio being looked at is field goals-to-turnovers, you know you had a tough day offensively.
In its last four games, the No. 14 MSU men’s basketball team was averaging just nine turnovers per game, but in Sunday’s 53-44 win against No. 3 Purdue at Mackey Arena, the Spartans turned it over 23 times.
To put that number in perspective, MSU made 21 field goals.
“Why we turned it over so much, I have to give (Purdue) credit for some, but I can’t explain why we turned it over as much as we did,” head coach Tom Izzo said.
“Off our foot, off our shoe, off this, off that. And yet they hung in there and battled back.”
Just when it seemed the Spartans (22-7 overall, 12-4 Big Ten) were taking care of the ball and cutting down on turnovers, MSU had enough to make up for the previous four games.
In the second half, each time the Spartans would start to pull away, an MSU guard was whistled for a travel. For a while it seemed the Spartans’ guards could not take fewer than four steps without traveling.
But for all the offensive miscues, the Spartans didn’t let the offensive woes affect them on the defensive end.
“That was probably the first time all year. That was very important,” Izzo said.
“That’s why I felt proud for our team. I didn’t feel great about the way we played, but I did feel good that we overcame some adversity in a tough environment. … I thought when we turned it over, we could’ve hung our heads. I felt like hanging myself, much less my head, but we didn’t and (I) give the players credit for that.”
Morgan finishes strong
With his final regular season winding down, senior forward Raymar Morgan is making the most of his last opportunities. Morgan had a team-high 16 points and added 11 rebounds for his fourth double double of the season.
Morgan (6-foot-8) took advantage of being matched up with shorter Purdue guard Chris Kramer (6-foot-3), who is considered one of the Big Ten’s best defenders. Following the game, Kramer said Morgan was “just a beast down low.”
It was Morgan’s final true road game and he wanted to make the most of it.
“It was huge. It was my last road game and I just wanted to go out with a win,” he said. “I just know it’s coming to an end. It’s just a determination right now that I felt like we had to get the job done.”
Hanging by a thread
Freshman center Derrick Nix got the start and played well, scoring seven points and grabbing two rebounds in nine minutes of action, but it was one play late in the first half that had Mackey Arena stunned.
With 3:24 remaining in the first half, Nix went up for a dunk but was unable to finish.
With the ball hanging in the air, Nix held himself up on the rim and tried to tip the ball in.
Nix was issued a technical foul for hanging on the rim. It was a play that confused his coach.
“He played a lot of basketball at St. Cecilia Church (in Detroit) and that’s what they do there,” Izzo said.
“I told him that that gym holds about 11 people and there’s 15,000 here so understand the difference. It wasn’t a showboat thing, I swear. I think he was so excited he had a chance to dunk the ball at 300 pounds.”
Nix joked that it was his reaction but he wouldn’t do it again.
“That’s just an instinct because I don’t like to miss,” he said with a grin. “That’s something I probably won’t do again. I’ll probably make the next one.
“I’m just hungry to score. I knew they were going to call it but maybe they weren’t going to.”
Junior guard Durrell Summers left the game with just under three minutes to play after spraining his right ankle going up for a layup.
Despite not returning to the game, Summers said he doesn’t expect any long-term effects.
“I jumped off a guy’s foot instead of the court,” Summers said.
“He kind of got under me when I went up and I kind of pushed off his foot and kind of rolled it a little bit.”