In front of one of the best atmospheres at the Breslin Center all season, Michigan State upset No. 4 Purdue 68-65 off a last-minute three from junior guard Tyson Walker for their best win of the season.
After promising change following an 86-60 loss to Iowa, Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo made substantial adjustments to the starting lineup for the first time all season by slotting junior center Julius Marble II and junior forward Malik Hall in place of senior center Marcus Bingham Jr. and redshirt senior forward Joey Hauser respectively. The move paid dividends for the Spartans as Marble (12 points) helped buoy them with a more aggressive and effective offensive attack to start the game.
Despite the changes, few had a greater effect than one of Michigan State’s mainstays. Senior forward Gabe Brown broke out of a prolonged slump to lead his team in scoring with 13 points and provide the steadying, go-to presence that the Spartans had been sorely lacking.
While the size and strength of sophomore center Zach Edey (25 points) and senior forward Trevion Williams allowed Purdue to have a 48-28 advantage in points in the paint, Michigan State got some headway by shooting 9-20 (45%) from deep compared to Purdue’s meager 1-7 (11%). Meanwhile, the Spartans adopted the tenets of the Boilermakers' balanced offensive attack with six players scoring eight or more points.
After Brown got Michigan State on the board with a triple and Christie followed up with a layup to give the home team an early 5-0 lead, neither team wasted time slugging back and forth with six lead changes in the first five minutes and a total of ten in the first half. The Spartans struggled to find much of an answer for Edey (15 first-half points) in the early going but made it far tougher on Purdue’s other primary options as Ivey tallied only eight points on two of five shooting and senior guard Sasha Stefanovic (zero first-half points) and Williams (three first-half points) failed to find much offensive traction.
It didn’t hurt that there were some welcome, if surprising, moments for Michigan State in the first half. In a clear mismatch, Hoggard hit a stepback three over Williams to make it 18-12 in favor of the Spartans, flashing three fingers as the crowd roared in delight. Sophomore center Mady Sissoko did his part to electrify the crowd with one of the best shifts of his Spartan career, the high point coming with a hard-hitting offensive rebound to draw a foul and some manic congratulations from his teammates.
Then there were some familiar, if missed ones, too. Brown streaked down the baseline and soared for an alley-oop dunk, a portrait of the attacking energy that had been desperately needed in the past few weeks. Coming out of a slump of his own, Christie’s shooting stroke finally garnered makes instead of misses, most notably with a three to bump his team’s lead to six late in the second half.
In the face of a juggernaut, all of them were needed.
Michigan State finally got some separation by rattling off an 8-0 run to make it 28-21 with five minutes to go in the first half but Purdue quickly cut the deficit to two thanks to a layup from sophomore guard Jaden Ivey and a dunk from Furst. Hoggard and Hauser answered the call with a layup and a three respectively but after Walker knocked senior guard Hunter out of bounds on a defensive closeout, Hunter hit three free throws with 5.3 seconds left in the first half to solidify a 35-33 halftime lead for the Spartans.
Heading into the second half, Edey predictably tied it at 35 over Marble a mere 15 seconds in but the Spartans forced four quick turnovers and moved ahead by four points after a jumper from Walker. Michigan State only continued to make it harder for their opponent, notably when Bingham swatted Edey’s shot attempt and Hoggard took it the length of the court for the fastbreak layup.
Six straight points for Marble fed into a 9-0 run that allowed the Spartans to take a 55-44 lead, their largest to that point with 10 minutes to go. Michigan State’s lead hovered around seven until Edey cut it to three with five minutes to go.
The Spartans broke a four-plus minute scoring drought off a one-handed alley-oop dunk from Bingham over Williams but Purdue immediately answered as the clock dipped below three minutes. A raucous crowd immediately quieted after Williams cut the Spartans lead to one with a hook.
Hoggard’s contested layup made it 63-60 with 1:33 to go but he failed to convert on his and-one foul shot and the Boilermakers remained within one shot of the team they had trailed for the majority of the second half. Ivey brought the score within one again with his layup and the Spartans were faced with another close game in the final minutes.
The game subsequently went right back into Ivey’s hands after an ill-timed foul from Christie with 51.6 seconds left brought him to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. Ivey tied it with his first and missed his second but Edey got whistled for his fourth foul on the ensuing action and sent Marble to the line for a one-and-one of his own.
Marble hit both. 65-63 with 39.4 left. Purdue called their final timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Williams's second chance heave up at the ball saw it circle around the rim slowly and fall through the net to tie the game at 65. Hoggard appeared hurt after the play and checked out for Walker before Michigan State called a timeout of their own with 16.1 seconds left.
One last shot.
Walker dribbled around and back and fired off one last three. It swished softly through the net, 68-65 with 1.4 seconds left to give the Spartans their picture-perfect moment, one the crowd embraced every second of.
After a lengthy review of a last-second inbounds play, the refs gave the ball back to Purdue with 0.04 seconds left. Williams passed it into Stefanovic and it bounced off his arm as time expired, breaking Michigan State's losing streak with their biggest win of the season.
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