MSU Overpowers Boilers 77-59
Photo Credit: Detroit Free Press
Purdue started the game out well, with an early lead and a strong start at one of the toughest places to play in the conference. MSU calmly dug out of the 7-point hole…and at the 10:00 mark of the first half, Sparty took its first lead of the game. Purdue would not lead again.
Midway through the second half, I began formulating a few thoughts of how this game looked like a sign of massive improvement over what had happened versus UM back in December. The final differential of this game was shockingly similar to that one, but the path to the routes were quite different.
In last night’s game, with less than ten minutes left in the second half, Purdue had hung around before cutting MSU’s lead down to just four points. As quickly as thematic thoughts for this post were formulated, MSU began flexing their collective defensive muscles, and Purdue seemed to be out of gas.
Carsen Edwards played his worst game of the season scoring just 11 points on 3-16 shooting while turning the ball over four times. At the same time Wheeler was 0-4 from deep. Purdue shot just 22% from three as a team in spite of Cline shooting 4-10. MSU defended nearly every look Purdue had from deep. Inside, MSU’s bigs were stout…as they outrebounded Purdue, 47-34. MSU looked like a physically superior team, and played like the more skilled team too…but Purdue fought and really didn’t completely wilt until the closing minutes.
Trevion Williams continues to improve nearly every time he gets on the court. Tonight, in 21 minutes of play, he was Purdue’s best player. He scored 13 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished 2 assists, and added both a block and a steal. He was matched up on Ward…a tough draw for a crusty vet, a beast of a task for a Freshman growing into his role, but he held his own. Haarms took a pretty big step backward from the Iowa effort. He scored only four points in nine minutes. Foul trouble kept him bottled up as did an inability to simply out-maneuver the bigger, stronger frontcourt of MSU.
Full disclosure- I was a bit numb watching this one…I came home from Tyler’s funeral was not very dialed in.
The good news is, I wasn’t angry or frustrated watching it. The lousy news is, right now, when Purdue plays really good teams, they look like they can’t compete with them. The incompleteness of Purdue’s roster is exposed by the teams that are well-coached and have horses.
The season is a process, there’s a ton of basketball yet to be played, and Purdue faces Wisconsin in Madison in just three days. Painter-coached teams have been solid in the Kohl Center, and Wisconsin isn’t on the level of UM nor MSU, but it will take an effort like the Iowa game for Purdue to beat Wisconsin on the road. They need a road win against a quality opponent to begin building a case for March.
An invitation to the dance, especially after games in the state of Michigan this season, seems like a longshot.