Monday, January 18, 2021

FINAL: Purdue 55, MSU 54, Spartans blow 17-point lead in loss to Purdue

January 8, 2021
<p>Junior forward Aaron Henry is swarmed by Purdue defenders in the paint during the Spartans&#x27; 55-54 loss to Purdue on Jan. 8.</p>

Junior forward Aaron Henry is swarmed by Purdue defenders in the paint during the Spartans' 55-54 loss to Purdue on Jan. 8.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

With six seconds remaining, No. 23 Michigan State men's basketball led by just one point against the Purdue Boilermakers. After missing a free-throw attempt that would have tied it, Purdue's Trevion Williams did something better. With :04 left in the game, he sunk a jumper to take the game instead.

After leading by 17 early in the second half, MSU fell apart, losing 55-54 against Purdue on Friday night at the Breslin Center.

Up by one with one minute remaining, junior forward Aaron Henry battled a shot in the paint through the arms of Purdue defenders to give the Spartans a three-point lead.

But it was only one of the two made shots on the Spartans' final 13 attempts from the field in the game.

As chants of "defense! defense!" rung from the MSU bench on the next possession, the Boilermakers would commit a brutal turnover, passing the ball right into the hands of a waiting Henry.

It looked like it would seal the deal for MSU.

Until it didn't.

Fighting for a rebound, Henry, in the final minute of play, would commit a foul on Williams, sending the Purdue star to the line. The play gave the Boilermakers the window of opportunity they needed to take the game away from the Spartans.

But it didn't start that way.

Defensive grit and toughness from the Spartans shut down almost every bit of production from the Boilermakers in the first half of this matchup. In the first 20 minutes, Purdue went 0-for-12 from beyond the arc and put up just 16 points entering the locker room at halftime.

Graduate student guard Joshua Langford and sophomore guard Rocket Watts, both of which have struggled as of late, found looks in the first half that extended a lead for the Spartans and brought energy to the squad. The pair combined for 17 in the game.

Midway through the first half, the Spartans sailed on a 13-0 scoring run to take a dominant 20-8 lead over the Boilermakers.

Purdue would inch closer in the following minutes until junior forward Marcus Bingham Jr. checked in for the Spartans to bring the defensive power MSU needed in the paint. Bingham would block three late shots from Purdue that would quiet the Boilermakers to enter the half trailing the Spartans 31-16.

However, in the second half, the energy that the Spartans had mustered up going into the locker room seemed to have transferred to their opponents instead.

Purdue started the second half on an 8-0 run that cut the Spartan lead to nine early, and that was just the beginning. 

From there, the Boilermakers' momentum continued as the Spartans struggled. After committing four turnovers total in the first half, MSU committed six in the first eight minutes of the second half. 

Purdue (8-5, 3-3 Big Ten) had it within three with seven minutes to go and cut it down to two just a minute later.

Compared to their 52.2% first-half shooting, the Spartans went 22.2% in the second half.

Meanwhile, Purdue's script looked quite the opposite. Williams, who scored just two points in the first half, put up 24 in the second. Compared to their 26.1% first-half shooting, Purdue shot 39.4% in the second.

With the loss, MSU (8-4) fell to 2-4 in the Big Ten after winning back-to-back. The Spartans will travel to Iowa on Jan. 14 for their next matchup.

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