The Spartans are trying desperately trying to avoid losing to Purdue three times in one season.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

The Spartans are trying desperately trying to avoid losing to Purdue three times in one season. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

 

This evening Michigan State will be taking on the Purdue Boilermakers in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.  This game is shaping up to be a very tough test for the 7th seeded Spartans.

The Spartans and Boilermakers have met twice this year with Purdue taking each contest by double digits.  Purdue won the first game by a score of 86-76 in West Lafayette, and then took the second game in East Lansing 67-47.  If the Spartans hope to win this game they’ll need to perform drastically better.  When speaking to the media after the Spartans’ victory over Iowa on Thursday, Draymond Green addressed the challenges Purdue presents.  He said, “You know, the first game against Purdue it was a really good game up until they made one run, and that run really lost us the game because we never really got back from that run in the first half.”  Michigan State will need to either slow Purdue’s runs or counter with runs of their own to make this game competitive.  If the Spartans can return to their old style of basketball, turning over the opposition and converting those turnovers into fast break points, the Spartans could put up a very good fight against the heavily favored Boilers.

The challenge for the Spartans today will certainly be trying to contain the numerous weapons possessed by Purdue.  Green said, “I think one of the key things tomorrow will be containing their role players.  JaJuan Johnson is a great player, he’s going to do what he do, and E’Twaun Moore is going to do what he do but it’s not letting Lewis Jackson get 17 points and not letting D.J. Byrd come out and get 11, 13 points or Ryne Smith come out and get 15.”  If Michigan State can’t turn Purdue into a 2 man team, the game could turn ugly very quickly.

Another big challenge for the Spartans today will be their injury situation.  Kalin Lucas injured his ankle against Iowa, and we at Spartan Nation don’t expect him to be at 100%.  Lucas will absolutely play against Purdue, but expecting him to be the Kalin we’ve seen the last two weeks is unrealistic.  However, injuries have been with this team all season.  Izzo said after the Iowa game, “Well, I don’t think it would be very good if we were healthy.  We were a little too healthy today maybe, so if we’re back to digging and scratching maybe that’s the way the whole year has been.”

This game is, as is always the case this time of year, about “survive and advance.”  Izzo’s mantra means even more in a difficult year like this one has been, as each game seems more about survival than domination.  Izzo addressed today’s game, saying, “Purdue is an awful good team, playing very well up until the last game, brings a lot of bodies at you, brings a lot of pressure at you.  It’ll be a great test for us.”  Izzo is absolutely correct, and if the past games are any indication Michigan State won’t need to bring it’s “A game” today, they’ll need to bring their “A+ game” in order to pull out a win against the Boilermakers.