West Lafayette, IN – Shooting for their first three-game win ranked Michigan State Spartans this afternoon at Mackey Arena.
On Friday, the Boilermakers had to make a major change in their program as they kicked guard Kelsey Barlow off the team and suspended D.J. Byrd for today's outing after an incident at a bar in West Lafayette. Barlow, who was suspended before last year's NCAA Tournament due to conduct detrimental to the team, was averaging 8.3 ppg and 3.7 rpg for the program. Byrd, a starter in only four games this season, is putting up 8.0 ppg and is one of the more reliable three-point shooters at 44.8 percent.
As far as Purdue as a team is concerned, the squad is coming off a 67-62 win over Illinois on the road four nights ago, just the third win in the last seven outings for the program.
Tied with Ohio State atop the standings at 10-3 entering the weekend, the Spartans are now the leaders in the league by default, after the Buckeyes lost to Michigan on the road last night. Since dropping back-to-back games against ACC and national powers North Carolina and Duke to kick off 2011-12, the Spartans have lost just three more times. On Thursday night MSU took care of Wisconsin at home by a score of 69-55, the team's fourth straight victory and the sixth in seven tries.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Boilermakers are ahead by a count of 65-47, although MSU has taken the last two matchups including an 83-58 blowout at home in the first meeting of the season last month.
Against Wisconsin earlier this week at the Breslin Center, points were bound to be precious and few given how tough the Badgers defense has been, but that wasn't necessarily the case for the Spartans. Draymond Green proved why he's considered one of the top performers in the nation as he delivered 20 points and 10 rebounds, not to mention five assists as well for MSU. Keith Appling tacked on 20 points of his own and Derrick Nix delivered 12 points in just 19 minutes off the bench. Green is not only averaging a double-double over the first 26 games of the season for MSU with 15.2 ppg and 10.5 rpg, he is also first on the unit with 37 steals and tied for the most blocked shots with 24. Throw in his 93 assists (second), and it is hard to come up with a player who does as much for his team as does Green. Appling checks in with 12.2 ppg for an offense that produces 73.0 ppg, but clearly the defense is a key factor for the Spartans as they hold opponents to just 37.3 percent shooting from the field, 28.5 percent behind the three-point line and a resulting 58.5 ppg.
Operating in enemy territory at Assembly Hall, the Purdue defense went to work on the Fighting Illini on the perimeter, holding the hosts to just 3-of-21 shooting behind the three-point line in order to secure the five-point win. Robbie Hummel logged a double-double for the visitors with 19 points and 11 rebounds, followed by fellow starters Byrd and Lewis Jackson with 13 points apiece. Off the bench, Terone Johnson responded with 12 points and six assists for the Boilermakers. Obviously Purdue is going to have some issues filling the void left by Barlow and Byrd for this game, but regardless of their status the top performer on offense is still Hummel who is averaging 15.7 ppg, even though he is shooting just 39.8 percent from the field. Jackson is responsible for another 10.0 ppg and has handed out 107 assists, dishes that have prevented him from taking too many shots behind the three-point line where he is just 20.8 percent accurate.