A pair of teams jockeying for position ranked Michigan State Spartans.
Purdue is enjoying a solid season, sporting a 14-5 overall record and a 4-2 mark in conference. The Boilermakers have been virtually unbeatable at home (10-1), but they have split their four true road games, and all eight of their tilts outside of West Lafayette in all. Coach Matt Painter's club has alternated wins and losses over its last four outings, and took care of visiting Iowa on Tuesday night in a 75-68 final.
Michigan State battled bitter rival Michigan on Tuesday, and fell to the Wolverines in a heart-breaker, 60-59. As a result, the Spartans slipped to 15-4 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten. It was actually the second straight loss for a team that hadn't suffered a setback since dropping back-to-back decisions to traditional powers North Carolina and Duke to open the season. MSU is 11-0 at home this season.
Purdue owns a 65-46 lead in the all-time series with Michigan State, and the Boilermakers have won two of the last three meetings. Purdue has claimed victory in each of its last two visits to the Breslin Center -- its best stretch in East Lansing since winning five straight from 1993-98.
Robbie Hummel scored 17 points to lead five players in double figures, as the Boilermakers battled from behind to top visiting Iowa earlier this week. Hummel, who crossed the 1,500-point barrier against the Hawkeyes to become only the 10th player in Purdue history with 1,500 points and 700 rebounds, also grabbed 11 of the team's 41 boards in the contest. Lewis Jackson added 14 points, Ryne Smith tallied a dozen, Kelsey Barlow had 11 and Teron Johnson chipped in 10 for the Boilermakers, who made good on 41.1 percent of their total shots, which included a dismal 4-of-15 (.267) showing from three-point range. Purdue claimed a 25-19 edge in points from the foul line, and held the Hawkeyes to 40.9 percent field goal efficiency in the decisive second half. Hummel (16.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 23 blocks) has made the most of his first injury- free campaign in a while by leading the team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. Smith is next on the scoring chart with 10.2 ppg, and Jackson contributes 10.0 ppg while serving as the team's primary playmaker with 3.7 apg. One guy who has raised his level of play recently is D.J. Byrd (5.7 ppg), as he is averaging 10.2 ppg against league foes in hitting 55.6 percent of his field goal attempts. For the season, the Boilermakers are netting 72.6 ppg behind a 36.5 percent shooting effort from downtown. They have done an exceptional job taking care of the basketball, turning it over only 9.6 times per game to rank second in the country in that category.
The Spartans knocked down 48 percent of their field goal attempts against Michigan earlier this week, but the team attempted only five free throws and only one starter scored in double figures. Derrick Nix came off the bench to tally 13 points on the strength of his 6-of-9 shooting effort, and Keith Appling chipped in 10 points and handed out five of the team's 13 assists. The Wolverines were held to a season-low 18 rebounds, but they drained 51.1 percent of their total shots and committed only eight turnovers. Not a team that typically puts forth such lackluster efforts, particularly against a bitter rival in a pivotal conference clash, Michigan State is averaging 75.7 ppg this season in hitting 47.8 percent of its field goal attempts and a shade under 37 percent of its long-range tries. As has been the case in nearly every season coach Tom Izzo has been at the helm, the Spartans dominate the glass (+10.2 rpg). They have also been pretty stingy when it comes to allowing the opposition open looks at the basket, as foes are shooting just 38.6 percent from the floor, which includes a 30.1 percent showing from beyond the arc. Draymond Green (15.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 3.4 apg) and Appling (12.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.9 apg) have been the team's most productive players this season.