Tuesday, June 25, 2024

MSU men's basketball's tough loss to No. 1 Purdue shows promise heading into March Madness

March 15, 2024
<p>Michigan State players approach their bench during the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals against Purdue in Minneapolis on March 15, 2024. The Spartans ultimately fell to the Boilermakers 67-62.</p>

Michigan State players approach their bench during the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals against Purdue in Minneapolis on March 15, 2024. The Spartans ultimately fell to the Boilermakers 67-62.

The Michigan State men’s basketball team fell to No. 1 Purdue 67-62 in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament, but Friday’s loss was a promising performance from the Spartans.

Purdue is a well-rounded team, but its star player is big man Zach Edey. Edey is notoriously hard to defend because of his height and how he is able to make consistent trips to the free-throw line.

Despite Edey’s looming presence under the net, Michigan State out-rebounded and out-blocked the Boilermakers—a feat that only two teams have accomplished this season.

The centers on Michigan State’s team have consistently proved to be a problem time and time again, but they showed up against Purdue when rematching their biggest test of the season—both literally and figuratively

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Senior center Mady Sissoko entered the game for the first time seven minutes into the first half and only played ten minutes total, but he made a huge impact during his time on the court.

“I really enjoyed the way we rotated some new guys in there because of foul trouble and every guy answered the bell,” head coach Tom Izzo said. “Mady Sissoko gets seven of the biggest rebounds I've ever seen in nine or ten minutes.”

Sissoko fought Edey at every opportunity and put in really good minutes before fouling out with 5:44 left in the game. 

It was truly a team effort in Minneapolis with all 10 players hitting the court, getting points on the board and contributing to an aggressive defensive barrage that kept the game within reach. 

The main driving factor in the Spartans’ loss was poor shooting from the floor and minimal trips to the free-throw line. Michigan State shot 10-12 from the charity stripe while Purdue went 18-27. 

Edey played for 35 minutes and was not called for a single foul during the duration of play, but logged a technical foul after an altercation with sophomore guard Tre Holloman, leaving Spartan fans less than thrilled.

Despite the foul disparities, the Spartans were in the game all the way until the end

“I'm going to say, I feel better about my team, and yet we got to figure out a way to make some big plays,” Izzo said. “We made free throws down the stretch, some big plays. We got to get to the line a little bit more. For some reason, there wasn’t a lot of fouls called our way, and so we didn't get to the line as much—that’s probably my fault.”

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Down the stretch, MSU made some huge plays. Double-digit performances from Holloman, graduate student guard Tyson Walker and graduate student forward Malik Hall allowed the Spartans to tie the game 56-56 with 1:41 left on the clock.

“This team is all in," Izzo said. "Multiple times during the game we could have folded because there were some adverse things that happened ... it was some bizarre things that happened. And we just kept fighting.”

The Spartans weren’t able to come out on top in the end and eventually lost 67-62 to Purdue, a team that will likely be one of the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. But, Michigan State's playoff hopes are still very much alive and their seeding and opponent will be decided on Sunday, March 17 at 6 p.m. on CBS.

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