Preview: Purdue at No. 18 Michigan State
Fresh off an upset of No. 14 Illinois, Purdue will try to topple another Big Ten power when it visits No. 18 Michigan State on Saturday.
The Boilermakers have one of the more difficult schedules to start conference play, with No. 8 Ohio State coming up after the Spartans. But if it can bring its defense to every game the way it did against the Fighting Illini, Purdue might have a chance to make some noise in the Big Ten.
Michigan State lost its conference opener to No. 13 Minnesota while allowing a season-high 76 points. The Spartans have always been a tight defensive team under Tom Izzo, but allowed the Golden Gophers to shoot 56.6 percent from the floor in the setback. The Boilermakers are not the sharpest shooting team in the conference and will be trying to out-muscle the Spartans on Saturday.
TV: 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
ABOUT PURDUE (7-6, 1-0 Big Ten): The Boilermakers have only one player averaging in double figures (Terone Johnson at 13.6 points) and shoot 27.9 percent from beyond the arc as a team. They held Illinois to 35.6 percent shooting in Wednesday’s 68-61 triumph and got enough from Johnson (25 points and nine rebounds) to make the defensive effort stand up. Purdue hit a slump at the beginning of December and dropped three of four. But the Boilermakers have won three straight since, each time getting enough on defense to deal with an offense that struggles to reach 70 points. Purdue was crushed 83-58 in its lone trip to East Lansing last season. Star Robbie Hummel went 0-for-11 from the field and Johnson went 2-for-5 in 14 minutes off the bench as the team shot 29 percent.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (11-3, 0-1): The Spartans held a five-point lead midway through the second half in Minnesota before faltering down the stretch to snap their six-game winning streak. Each of Michigan State’s three losses this season have come away from East Lansing, where they are 9-0 and have won by an average of 21 points. Keith Appling, who leads the Spartans in scoring (14.9) and assists (4.1), had 10 points in the home win over the Boilermakers last season and has emerged as the team leader for Izzo in 2012-13. The junior guard had 15 points and six steals in the loss to Minnesota and has scored in double figures in three of the last four games.
Michigan State has taken three straight in the series.
Each of the Spartans’ top six scorers is shooting at least 46.6 percent from the field, led by Adreian Payne at 58.4 percent.
Johnson is shooting 33.3 percent in Purdue’s losses and 45.2 percent in wins.