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MSU looking for revenge

February 15, 2009

Junior forward Raymar Morgan drives past Ohio State guard P.J. Hill to shoot in the first half Jan. 25 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Morgan is expected to play on Tuesday against Purdue after recovering from mononucleosis during the past weeks.

Photo by Jason Chiou | The State News

It’s not that senior guard Travis Walton needed reminding, but he watched film from the last time the MSU men’s basketball team traveled to Purdue anyway.

Then he watched it again.

“Oh yeah, I watched that game twice already,” Walton said of last season’s 60-54 loss against Purdue at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. “For myself and the seniors, the last two years it ain’t been pretty for us, so hopefully this year will be a different story.”

In 2008, Purdue forward Robbie Hummel scored a then-career-high 24 points as the No. 19 Boilermakers upset No. 10 MSU. The year before, Purdue embarrassed MSU in the second half, holding the Spartans to just 12 second-half points in a 62-38 loss.

The No. 9 Spartans (20-4 overall, 10-2 Big Ten) are hoping for a different story Tuesday when they travel to face No. 20 Purdue (19-6, 8-4) at 7 p.m., and not just for revenge. With a one-and-a-half game lead over second place Illinois and a two-game lead over Purdue, the Spartans are in the driver’s seat for their first Big Ten Championship since 2000-01.

“It’s something (we talk about), being in this position and having a two-game lead with six games left,” senior center Goran Suton said. “Our destiny’s in our hands and we have to go down there and take care of business.”

Morgan back at practice

Junior forward Raymar Morgan is close to making his well-anticipated return to the court, a move that could happen as soon as Tuesday.

“Hopefully, that’s the plan,” said Morgan, who practiced Sunday. “If coach needs me for one minute or 20, I’m just going to provide those minutes.”

Morgan has been out since Jan. 16 with an illness that has been described as an upper respiratory disorder, walking pneumonia and, most recently, mononucleosis. After sitting in street clothes against Minnesota and Indiana, Morgan dressed Tuesday against Michigan but didn’t play.

Morgan said he could have played Tuesday if MSU head coach Tom Izzo absolutely needed him. Although Morgan looked much better after Sunday’s practice than he had in weeks, he still said his recovery is a day-to-day process.

Players approve of rest

MSU’s seven-day off stretch was welcomed by players, who were able to relax and catch up on both academics and time in the film room.

“I think it’s good because you get time to work with the coaches and fix what you’ve been doing wrong, get a lot of shooting in and you get some rest time,” Walton said.

The Spartans got both Wednesday and Friday off, getting them geared up for not only Purdue on Tuesday, but also an always-tough Wisconsin team on Feb. 22.

“I think it came right before a big stretch, probably the most important stretch of our season,” Suton said. “The rest is hopefully good for us.”

Speaking of Purdue …

Hummel returned to the court Saturday after missing the past three games with a hairline fracture in his lower back, scoring two points on 1-for-7 shooting in 24 minutes as the Boilermakers beat Iowa 49-45.

The sophomore, who was selected as the Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year, has missed five games this season.

“I think they were starting to adjust without playing with him and now he’s back, so now they have to adjust to playing with him,” said Walton of the difference between Purdue with and without Hummel. “But he brings so much to his team — he brings hustle, that comfortableness on the court with him and just the ability to spread the court out.”

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