Tuesday, June 25, 2024

MSU men's basketball falls to No. 1 Purdue at Big Ten Tournament, 67-62

March 15, 2024
<p>Michigan State junior guard No. 3 Jaden Akins shoots the ball against Purdue in the Quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis, March 15, 2024. The Spartans looked to upset Purdue, but ultimately fell to the Boilermakers 67-62. </p>

Michigan State junior guard No. 3 Jaden Akins shoots the ball against Purdue in the Quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis, March 15, 2024. The Spartans looked to upset Purdue, but ultimately fell to the Boilermakers 67-62.

As was the case two weeks prior, Michigan State’s men’s basketball team’s best effort was not enough for Purdue. 

The Spartans fell 67-62 to the 1-seed Boilermakers at the Big Ten Tournament on Friday, sending head coach Tom Izzo and his team home to East Lansing for the rest of the weekend. MSU clawed and fought its way through the game – even out-rebounding the paint-dominating Boilermakers – but came up short in crunch time.

Ultimately, the Spartans were a few close misses away from upsetting the Big Ten Champion. They put up 61 shots – eight more than Purdue – making just 24. They shot 4-for-18 from three-point range. 

MSU guard Tyson Walker was off for most of the night, tallying 15 points on just 6-for-18 shooting. Guard Tre Holloman picked up where he left off on Thursday, consistently bringing effort and energy in his return to his hometown of Minneapolis. He was all over the court, scoring ten points, grabbing four rebounds and swatting away a shot.  

Purdue’s Zach Edey was as advertised, punishing the Spartans with 29 points and 12 rebounds. The Boilermakers' offense outside of Edey was quiet, with guard Lance Jones being the only other Purdue player in double figures with 10 points.  

Friday marked Tom Izzo’s 1,000th game coached at MSU. He’s one of just 12 coaches in Division 1 history to reach the milestone at a single school. 

While a win Thursday afternoon over Minnesota gave MSU some wriggle room for its likelihood of making the NCAA Tournament, Friday’s slate with Purdue presented a chance for the Spartans to take down the Big Ten Champion and unanimous 1-seed ahead of March Madness next week. 

Whether or not MSU needed to beat Purdue to earn a bid on Selection Sunday, the Spartans faced a tremendous opportunity. The last time MSU beat the Boilermakers was in 2022 when Walker drilled a deep three-pointer with less than a second left at the Breslin Center. This was the Spartans’ only win against Purdue in their last 10 meetings. 

For shooting as poorly as MSU did in the first half at 9-for-27 from the field, a 34-27 Purdue lead at halftime proved the Spartans were still in it and, if they shot to the level they’re capable of, could give the Boilermakers a run for their money in the second. MSU’s guards shot just 4-for-19 combined in the first half. 

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Michigan State started how it wanted to – running in transition. After an Edey bucket on Purdue’s first possession, Hoggard pushed and found Walker on the wing for a triple. Minutes later, Jaden Akins got a clean look from the left wing off a fast break, but his shot rimmed out. The junior guard went 0-for-6 from the field in the first half. 

The Boilermakers, maybe the best team in the nation at drawing fouls, reached the bonus less than eight minutes into the first half – trouble for MSU. The Spartans could ill afford to allow 30 foul shots as they did in West Lafayette two weeks ago.

Down 15-9 and with Edey taking his first rest of the game, MSU needed a strong stretch to close the gap. But Purdue’s defense was stifling, forcing the Spartans to take contested shots late in the shot clock. MSU’s defensive effort was also solid in the first half, not allowing Edey or Smith to control the game and remain within striking distance. 

Hall got going, converting two separate and-one opportunities in the paint and at the line. With five minutes to play in the first half, the Spartans trailed by just one point. Purdue extended the lead, however, to seven at the halftime break after tightening down on MSU defensively and some good production off the bench from freshman guard Myles Colvin.

Walker picked up three fouls in the first half, hindering his physical freedom for the rest of the way.

When all was said and done, Michigan State made things interesting but couldn’t capitalize on its chances to break the ice.

The shooting struggles continued for MSU out of the locker room. Purdue went up 12 quickly, but the Spartans brought the deficit back to five. Holloman was a huge factor in that, hitting a corner three and then driving to the hoop to finish plus a foul. He nailed the free throw. 

A huge turning point in the game: Smith going down hard under Purdue’s basket after driving through contact. He clutched his right knee for a few agonizing minutes inside Target Center and was immediately helped to the locker room. It was a scary moment for Purdue’s floor general, and one of the best guards in the country as just a sophomore. 

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Walker remained cold, missing his first three shots of the second half. The Spartans stayed within reach of the Boilermakers, but couldn’t break through. Down five, Akins missed an open three. Hall and Hoggard missed subsequent shots in the paint. Luckily for MSU, Edey missed two front ends of one-and-one opportunities to keep it hanging around.

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It was a half of missed chances for the Spartans. They went on a three-minute scoring drought and made only one of 11 field goals when down just five. Smith re-entered for Purdue, limited by the knee injury but still his normal, offense-controlling self.

Walker found a spark, drilling a three-pointer and driving for two to cut Purdue’s lead to four. With 3:22 left in regulation, time entered the equation for MSU. Play needed to be incredibly sound on both ends if the Spartans wanted to upset the Big Ten’s goliath. 

The Spartans tied it up moments later after getting consecutive stops and buckets from Carson Cooper and Walker. Purdue’s Fletcher Loyer responded with a massive corner three to put the Boilermakers up 59-56 with just over a minute to play. 

The next trip down, a three from Booker went halfway down but swirled out. Purdue grabbed the board, ran the floor and fed Edey for a layup – a monumental 5-point swing. 

Hoggard was fouled and made both free throws to bring the Spartans within three, but only 27 seconds remained. They had to foul Jones, who went one-for-two. MSU scored easily to make it 62-60 in favor of Purdue with 19 seconds left. The Spartans fouled Edey on the inbounds pass. 

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Edey was clutch at the line, making both. MSU came away empty on the other end, sealing the 67-62 win for Purdue. 

Michigan State now awaits its seeding in the NCAA Tournament next week. The complete bracket will be released on Sunday, March 17 at 6 p.m. on CBS. 

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