MSU guts out their 15th conference win 62-51 in a 68-possession. StatSheet box score.
Raise your hand if you had us winning the conference by FOUR games:
In a conference with 8 teams deserving of an NCAA bid–and a 9th team that will probably end up a couple blown leads away from the Big Dance–only one team managed to finish the conference season more than two games above the 9-9 mark.
I, of course, foresaw MSU’s precise conference record before the season even began:
In conference play, this team should be good enough to hold court against the entire league for a 9-0 home record. Road games against Purdue and Ohio State lean toward losses. Thankfully, we don’t play in Madison this season. Toss in one more road loss against the middle of the league (Minnesota/Illinois/Penn State/Michigan) and you get a conference record of 15-3.
I was way off on the home/road splits, but let’s ignore that since the overall result might just be the first correct prediction I’ve made in the 16 months this blog has existed.
OK. let’s talk about today’s game. Purdue grabbed a 2-point halftime lead as E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson took advantage of a series of MSU defensive lapses to score a combined 19 points on 14 FG attempts. The MSU defense tightened up considerably in the second half, to say the least, holding Purdue to just 4 points over the first 14 minutes of the half. Purdue shot just 6-32 from the field in the second half, as the Spartans consistently forced them into taking tough shots from the perimeter. Once again, MSU forced their opponent to beat them with one-on-one moves, as Purdue recorded an assist on only 6 of 17 made FG attempts. And, thankfully, we managed to catch Robbie Hummel on a cold shooting night (2-7 from beyond the arc).
Michigan State took advantage of their size advantage throughout the game, outrebounding the Boilermakers 50-32, offsetting some turnover issues. The result is this bar graph:
Perhaps the most encouraging thing about this game was the big advantage in free throw attempts for MSU. After getting the bad end of some typically uneven Hightower-led officiating in the first half (at least in the view of me and the 14,000 other people at the Breslin Center), Michigan State kepts its composure and ended up adjusting to the tight officiating in the second half better than Purdue did. For the game, 5 different Spartans got to the free throw line at least 4 times (Lucas/Roe/Suton/Allen/Morgan).
In the final analysis, though, this game was won on defense. MSU held Purdue to its lowest offensive efficiency mark (75.0) of the season. Winning a defensive battle against a team that’s as good on defense as the Boilermakers is no small feat.
- Kalin Lucas for Big Ten Player of the Year: 21 points on 14 FG attempts to go with 4 assists and 5 rebounds (4 of them offensively). The Purdue guards did manage to fluster Lucas a bit once again, though, as he turned it over 6 times.
- Travis Walton put on a defensive show during a series of possessions in the first half, knocking the ball out of the Purdue ball-handlers’ hands several times and eventually forcing a crowd-pleasing turnover. He finished with 3 steals.
- Raymar Morgan never got into an offensive rhythm, finishing with 7 points and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes. On defense, he helped keep Hummel in check.
- Goran Suton very appropriately ended his Breslin Center career with a double double: 10 points and 11 rebounds. He got what was perhaps the loudest ovation of the night when he departed the game after fouling out.
- Durrell Summers’ jumpshot has gone missing, but he chipped in 4 rebounds and a dunk that stretched the lead to 12 with a minute and a half to go.
- Delvon Roe was a beast 9 points and 8 rebounds, 4 of them on offense. The backward layup he converted as part of a 3-point play may have been the play of the day. He did a much better job sticking to Hummel early in the game that he did in the last meeting.
- Chris Allen played his role well today. 7 points on a 3-pointer and 4 free throw makes in the final 2 minutes. Zero turnovers.
- Draymond Green: 2 points, a rebound, and an assist in 10 minutes. Did you notice how Izzo put him in the final minutes for ball-handling after Lucas turned it over in the corner? He’s quickly earned the coach’s trust.
- Marquise Gray contributed a great hustle play: the offensive rebound and tip to Kalin Lucas for a 3-pointer toward the end of the first half.
- Idong Ibok managed to avoid picking up any stats in the 7 minutes he played. That includes not picking up a foul, which is pretty impressive given that he didn’t match up well with Purdue and was presuably only playing because it was Senior Day.
- Korie Lucious is still sick, I assume?
The Senior Day festivities following the game were well done. All four seniors made brief comments, focusing on the sense of family that exists in the MSU basketball program. (Most poignantly, Lupe Izzo accompanied Ibok on to the floor, since his family was unable to be present.) They got to raise a banner and–after the Izzone was invited to take the floor–cut down the nets. A pretty good way to go out.
Up Next: We play the noon game on Friday in Indy against the Minnesota/Northwestern winner.
P.S. Jamil Wilson has decided to be a Duck. That’s a disappointment from a personnel standpoint, as he would have fit the Alan Anderson/Raymar Morgan versatile forward role very nicely. I tend to take the view, though, that, if a guy doesn’t want to be here, it’s probably best that he won’t be. If you don’t click with Tom Izzo during the recruting phase, you’re probably not going to click with him once you get on campus. Joining a team that went just 2-16 in the Pac 10 this year, perhaps Wilson is looking to be a major contributor at the college level right off the bat.