It was a record-setting Thursday night for No. 13 Michigan State.
The Spartans began the game red-hot and ended the game red-hot as Michigan State rolled Purdue 94-79 behind its school record three-point shooting performance. Michigan State converted 17 of its 32 three-point attempts in the rout. Leading the way for Michigan State was sophomore Gary Harris with 25 points and senior Adreian Payne who added 23 points. The two future pros played a big role in breaking the school three-point record as they combined to hit 10 three-pointers.
Purdue was paced by freshman guard Kendall Stephens who chipped in 19 points for the Boilermakers.
After an embarrassing home loss to Nebraska on Sunday afternoon, Michigan State (22-5, 11-3) bounced back in a big way in West Lafayette. The Spartans only scored 51 points in the loss on Sunday, but almost reached that mark in the first half on Thursday night with 49 points and nearly doubled that total for the whole game. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo should be happy with the way his team performed after his team’s lackluster performance against the Cornhuskers.
A game that was important for both teams, Michigan State showed its superior talent and experience from the opening tip. Despite the incredible shooting night, Purdue (15-11, 5-8) kept it relatively close in the first half. However, the Boilermakers couldn’t keep up with the sharpshooting Spartans. Purdue was hoping a victory would keep their slim NCAA tournament hopes alive, but it wasn’t able to record the marquee win on its home floor.
Michigan State now has a half-game lead over rival Michigan as the two squads will do battle in Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon. Both teams have had a roller coaster month of February. Neither team has won consecutive games and both have had chances to take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, but haven’t taken advantage of those opportunities.
The last time these two teams met, Michigan took down Michigan State 80-75 in East Lansing on Jan. 25. The Spartans were without Payne as he was nursing an injury. He will be a match up problem for the Wolverines with his size inside and ability to shoot the perimeter jumper.
Payne could be the difference between a Wolverine season sweep of the Spartans or a huge road win for Michigan State that could go a long way in winning the Big Ten regular season conference championship.