The 18th-ranked Michigan State Spartans put their undefeated home record on the line once again, as they entertain the Purdue Boilermakers in Big Ten Conference action on Saturday.
Although it is only 7-6 on the year, Purdue is playing its best basketball right now, the team having won three in a row. The most recent victory was their biggest thus far, as the Boilermakers upset No. 11 Illinois on Wednesday night at home, 68-61. PU is 6-2 at home, but has just one win in five opportunities outside of West Lafayette.
Since suffering a 67-59 loss at Miami back on Nov. 28, Michigan State had been cruising along in establishing a six-game winning streak. Unfortunately, the Spartans came out on the wrong end of a 76-63 final at No. 9 Minnesota on new Year's Eve. Despite the setback, MSU is 11-3 overall and has won all nine games played at the Breslin Center this season. The Spartans have won their last 10 conference home openers, and 15 of the 17 under head coach Tom Izzo.
Purdue owns a 65-48 lead in the all-time series with Michigan State, but the Spartans have won the last three meetings.
Despite a record that hovers right around .500, Purdue owns solid margins in both scoring (+6.2) and rebounding (+8.7), the team relying heavily on a balanced attack as eight players average at least 4.1 ppg. There is only one double-digit scorer, but even Terone Johnson's 13.6 ppg comes at the expense of a lackluster 40.3 percent shooting effort. The team as a whole is hitting a mere 41.9 percent of its field goal attempts, with only 27.9 percent of its 3- point tries finding the bottom of the net. Johnson put forth an impressive effort in Purdue's recent win over Illinois, netting a career-high 25 points and grabbing nine rebounds. D.J. Byrd added 15 points by nailing four 3- pointers, and Jacob Lawson tacked on 10 points to go with seven rebounds. The Boilermakers won the game thanks in large part to a defensive effort that held the Illini to 35.6 percent field goal efficiency.
Michigan State's bread and butter is its ability to shut down the opposition, as the team yields just 57.5 ppg on typical shooting efforts of .368 overall, .309 from beyond the arc, and .659 at the charity stripe. A substantial +9.0 rebounding advantage helps, as does a balanced attack that accounts for 70.2 ppg thanks to a solid 47.6 percent shooting effort. Keith Appling (14.9 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Gary Harris (12.3 ppg) are the team's only double-digit scorers at the moment, but Branden Dawson is close to joining the ranks as he nets 9.6 ppg to go with 5.9 rpg and a team-high 27 steals and 18 blocks. Minnesota certainly had the hot hand in its recent clash with Michigan State, shooting 56.6 percent from the floor compared to 44.4 percent for the Spartans. Appling tallied 15 points for the Spartans, who went just 2-of-10 at the foul line and committed 14 turnovers.