Purdue heads to East Lansing still in search of its first true road win.
After a midweek COVID break Purdue returns to the floor tomorrow night, and now it is officially extended road trip. We don’t know when the Nebraska game will be made up, so now we have four straight away from Mackey Arena, and three against top 25 teams. At some point this year Purdue has to find a way to win a true road game. It has come close. It has had the defensive half of the equation at Miami, Iowa, and Illinois where we played well enough on that side of the ball to win, but not on offense. The Rutgers game was the inverse.
As always, this game is an opportunity. Michigan State is always going to be one of the better coached and most talented teams in the conference, but this conference season has been a slow start for them. If Purdue can put it all together finally this is a game it can win.
From: East Lansing, MI
Date : Friday, January 8, 2021
Tip Time: 7pm ET
Location: East Lansing, MI
Arena: Breslin Center (14,797)
Television: FoxSports 1
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
2019-20 Record: 22-9, 14-6 Big Ten (Big Ten Co-Champion)
2020-21 Record: 8-3, 2-3 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: The Only Colors
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 70-55
Last Michigan State Win: 77-59 at Michigan State on 1/8/2019
Last Purdue Win: 71-42 at Purdue on 1/12/2020
NCAA Tournament History: 33 Appearances (22 consecutive), 1979 & 2000 National Champion
Coach: Tom Izzo (636-244 in 25th season at Michigan State)
We all know there was good Purdue and bad Purdue last year. Bad Purdue lost by 12 at Nebraska. Good Purdue absolutely destroyed top 10 Michigan State by 29 in Mackey. When all was said and done Purdue had convincing wins over two of the three teams that shared the conference title last season, but still went 9-11. We have not seen similar extremes this year as mostly Purdue has been in close games with Power 5 teams, but there is a measure of confidence that the Spartans were better last year and we blew them out.
It is a bit hard to get a read on this year’s Spartan team. They have a win at Duke, which in most years is a notable achievement. They beat the same Notre Dame team by 10 that we beat. Once conference play started, however, they have stumbled. First was a shocking 14 point loss at Northwestern. A home 9 point loss to Wisconsin isn’t bad, but they were blown out by 25 at Minnesota and survived at Nebraska by 8. They come in with some confidence this week after beating Rutgers by 23 Tuesday night.
Michigan State has just two players averaging in double figure. Aaron Henry has emerged as a team leader with 14 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. Joey Hauser, a transfer from Marquette, is doing extremely well in his first season in East Lansing, averaging 12 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
We also get to see a lot of familiar names. Purdue heavily recruited Malik Hall and the sophomore forward is averaging 6.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 45% from three. Foster Loyer, older brother of Purdue commit Fletcher Loyer, is averaging 5.6 per game and shooting 41% from three. Overall Michigan State is dangerous because they are balanced. Instead of facing one big star like a Luka Garza or Ron Harper Jr. we are facing a team with nine guys averaging between 4 and 12 points.
Michigan State has been pretty average statistically as a team. They are 7th in the league in scoring at 78 points per game, but Purdue is dead last. They are 10th defensively at 72.8 points given up, while Purdue is 6th at 67.3.
Like so many games, this comes down to Purdue’s consistency on offense. A 19-0 run is great like we had at Illinois, but when you score less than 40 points in the other 34 minutes of the game it doesn’t help much. Purdue has to limit turnovers, be diverse on offense, and avoid the cold stretches that plagued them at Iowa, Miami, and Illinois. The Spartans are playing better basketball than they were during their three-game swoon, but there is a game where it finally clicks for Purdue coming. Hopefully it is tomorrow or at least next week against Indiana.