Michigan State withstood an energized early Purdue run, turned up the defense several notches in the second half and efficiently put down the Boilermakers Sunday to maintain sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
Keith Appling finished with seven points, five assists
The Spartans’ 76-62 win in West Lafayette moves the Spartans to 11-3 in conference, one game ahead of 10-4 Ohio State and Michigan following the Wolverines’ home win over the Buckeyes Saturday night.
Draymond Green did a bit of everything in leading MSU to victory, tallying 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. The senior was also 3 of 4 from 3-point range and set the tone early in the first half from the perimeter. While Green has been remarkably consistent this season, fellow senior captain Austin Thornton enjoyed his best performance as a Spartan Sunday.
Thornton finished with a career-high 17 points and was an efficient 6 of 10 from the field, logging 27 minutes while adding three rebounds. His mid-range shot opened things up for MSU inside early, as Derrick Nix scored six consecutive points in the first half.
Nix finished with 12 points in 25 minutes off the bench, while Indiana native and Purdue target Branden Dawson continued to thrive on the wing. The freshman had 15 points and 11 rebounds, as well as one spectacular windmill dunk in transition which drew a chorus of boos from the Purdue student section.
Defensively MSU held Purdue to 33.8 percent shooting after a dismal second half performance from the Boilermakers’ offense. Senior Robbie Hummel put forth an inspired effort after failing to make a basket during MSU’s win over Purdue at Breslin Center, leading the Boilermakers with 24 points. Hummel also grabbed 15 rebounds and Lewis Jackson finished with 15 points. Jackson gave MSU some trouble with penetration in the first half but the Spartans made a few sound defensive adjustments during the second half.
The Spartans shot an impressive 50.8 percent from the field and tallied just eight turnovers on the afternoon.
MSU next plays at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Minnesota.