Sunday, December 5, 2021

Spartans look to rebound

January 16, 2002
Freshman forward Alan Anderson charges around Wisconsin guard Kirk Penney toward the basket during Saturday’s loss at the Breslin Center. —

MSU men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo said after Saturday’s loss to Wisconsin, it’s time “to start a new streak.”

And the Spartans (9-7 overall, 0-3 Big Ten) have a chance to do just that at 8 p.m. against Purdue (9-9, 1-3).

But rekindling a home winning streak is the less of the Spartans’ problems. Without a Big Ten win, MSU is yet to make a move toward its goal of a fifth-straight Big Ten Championship.

The Spartans’ 0-3 start is the worst conference start since the 1987-88 season.

That season MSU finished with a 5-13 record. None of the 2002 Spartans want to follow that road.

That’s why sophomore forward Adam Wolfe said the Purdue contest is a must-win to dig the Spartans out of the ditch they now lie in.

“I think urgency is a good word to say how we’re feeling,” Wolfe said of being in the Big Ten basement.

“We got to win some games and we got to win some games quick, because we’re so far behind already. Other good teams are losing, but we’re already behind and we need to get back in the swing of things.”

Purdue is a good place to start since the Boilermakers only have one conference win themselves.

That win came against preseason conference favorite Illinois, 84-75, Jan. 9.

MSU doesn’t expect a win to come easy.

The Boilermakers could cause matchup problems for the Spartans with solid post play from 6-foot-10 center John Allison, who is averaging 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

With only eight scholarship players, the Spartans are thin in the post.

But Purdue’s true threat comes in the form of 6-1 guard Willie Deane. Going into tonight’s game, the guard is averaging a team high 18.3 points per game.

In his visit to Breslin Center last season, Deane tallied a season-high 20 points.

This season, Deane’s leading the Big Ten in scoring with 21.8 points per game in conference play.

MSU sophomore guard Marcus Taylor knows all too well what Deane is capable of, and said perimeter defense will be one of the keys for an MSU win.

“They have some great shooters,” Taylor said. “They have Willie Deane coming back, he’s playing great right now - he penetrates pretty well so we have to crack down on that.”

Like MSU, Purdue has a strong championship past.

Purdue head coach Gene Keady is the godfather of the Big Ten and his teams always are prepared for the league’s best.

If MSU plans to register its first Big Ten win, it needs to be prepared for a fight, Wolfe said.

“They are a tough team,” Wolfe said. “They’ve had some losses that they maybe shouldn’t of had.

“Like everyone knows, Purdue knows how to win games and win championships, so it will be a tough game for us.”


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