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Spartans set sights on Boilermakers in Big Ten brawl

Tom Izzo and his No. 12 Michigan State Spartans look to keep their hat in the race for first place as they visit Mackey Arena for a Big Ten Conference brawl with the Purdue Boilermakers.

This will be the second clash between these Big Ten schools this season. MSU collected an easy 84-61 triumph in East Lansing on Jan. 5 to tip-off the 2012-13 season series. Purdue leads the all-time series with Michigan State, 65-49, including a 40-16 advantage in games played in West Lafayette. MSU has won 20 of the last 30 tilts in the series. Izzo is 20-13 in his career against Purdue.

The Spartans avenged a late December loss to Minnesota on Wednesday as they handled the Golden Gophers, 61-50, to improve to 19-4 overall and 8-2 in the Big Ten standings. Michigan State is tied for first place in the conference with Michigan and Indiana. The success has come this season behind strong leadership from junior point guard Keith Appling, who is pacing the squad with 14.0 points and 4.2 assists per outing.

In the victory over Minnesota, Gary Harris tallied 15 points to lead the Spartans, while Appling provided 14 points before leaving with a shoulder injury. Appling's injury has him listed as doubtful for Saturday. Travis Trice is also doubtful with a concussion, while Branden Dawson (10.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is questionable due to a sprained ankle. The banged up Spartans still managed to out-duel the Golden Gophers by connecting on 9-of-18 attempts from 3-point range. Michigan State's not the type of team to find itself in shootouts, as it produces 69.3 points per game while limiting opponents to just 59.0 per outing.

Matt Painter's Boilermakers suffered two lopsided losses to Indiana (97-60) and Northwestern (75-60) before breaking the trend with a 58-49 victory at Penn State on Tuesday. The win bumped Purdue up to a 12-11 overall record and an even 5-5 mark in Big Ten play. Since Robbie Hummel's graduation last spring, Terone Johnson has emerged as the new top offensive weapon for Purdue with averages of 12.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game.

Johnson netted a team-best 16 points in the victory over the Nittany Lions, while freshmen A.J. Hammons and Donnie Hale each provided a double-double. Hammons, who ranks third in the league in both total rebounds per game (8.2) and offensive rebounds per game (3.1) in Big Ten action, produced 15 points and 12 boards while Hale chipped in 10 points and the same number of rebounds. The Boilermakers managed to escape with the win despite going 0-of-10 from 3- point range.

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