Matt McQuaid shines defensively, shuts down Purdue's Carsen Edwards
Senior guard Matt McQuaid scored nine points Tuesday night on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. His impact on the 77-59 win over Purdue might have been the same if he had never even shot the ball.
The Duncanville, Texas native held his fellow Texan, Purdue junior guard Carsen Edwards, to a season-low 11 points on 3-of-16 shooting. Edwards came in averaging over 25 points per game, with 19 as his previous season low. After five points scored before the first media timeout, Edwards failed to score in any of McQuaid’s 29 minutes for the rest of the game.
“Matt did relish (the opportunity to face Edwards),” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said postgame. "This summer and this fall, him and Josh were good leaders in a different way. They really tried to say, ‘hey, we’ll do what we need to win.’ It wasn’t about his points or anything like that, he made a commitment he was going to try to guard him the best he could guard him. He was just all over him.”
It was an all hands on deck approach when it came to the talented Edwards, and McQuaid was the first to credit the coaching staff with the defensive job done. The Spartans had a clear directive to limit Edwards from getting to the rim, blitzing ball screens and closing down gaps that the shifty Edwards normally gets through.
“I thought that their help was good,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said, of the Spartans defense. “The one thing with Carsen is he gets that way, he’ll try to split, he’ll try to knife through … I thought Michigan State did a really good job of closing down those gaps and not letting him get in.”
McQuaid confirmed postgame that the game plan was indeed to close those gaps down.
“It was tough for him because we were in the gaps. I had a hand up, and he was taking tough shots,” McQuaid said.
With junior guard Joshua Langford out with a left ankle injury, the perimeter defensive has fallen almost completely on McQuaid. He has an aw-shucks approach to postgame interviews, but his fire on the court is infectious and his defensive focus on Edwards didn’t waver.
“You can never relax on him. You always gotta be cautious. Every time I had a hand up, I was looking back like, ‘Oh (crap!) Ok!’” he said, referring to challenging Edwards’ jump shots.
Painter said McQuaid was a typical four-year Michigan State player.
“When he first came in the league, you could tell from just a competitive standpoint, that he’s a guy that’s gonna help them win. And one thing that coach Izzo has done here with guys is, it’s not just on one end of the court,” Painter said. “Guys like that sacrifice to help the team.”
Edwards expressed that he never felt off-balance, shots just weren’t falling. Edwards is capable of making shots even when the defense is perfect.
“He’s like Mr. Reliable,” senior forward Kenny Goins said of the Texan.
For a guy like McQuaid, who will never be a primary scoring threat for MSU, nights like Tuesday are his crowning achievement.
“Matt McQuaid was unbelievable,” Izzo said.