Breslin Center

East Lansing, MI

It was a Jud Heathcote honorary game today and it played out like an old-school Big Ten battle.  When the blood, the sweat, and dust settled the #4 Spartans won 68-65 over the #3 Purdue Boilermakers.

Hall of Fame Michigan State coach Tom Izzo proved his worth.  He decided that with dangerous Purdue big man Isaac Haas that he would not double team him.  He knew that he would get his points (25) but Izzo was not willing to let the deadly three-point Purdue attack to beat them.   It was a brilliant move

Matt Painter on the Izzo game plan, “They made a decision not double Isaac (Haas).  We wanted to keep going into him and they made a decision and we had to roll with it.  They made the decision on what to give us and we have to take what they give us.  We just have to keep going to the well.”

When Nick Ward got hurt early Gavin Schilling came in and was excellent.  He only had seven points and seven rebounds, but he was terrific on defense.

Tom Izzo said of the decision to NOT double team Haas and the play of Schilling, “The game plan was to give Haas some shots and make sure that they didn’t get some threes.  To hold them to zero threes in the second half was key.  The key to the game was not to turn it over and to not give up threes.  That was the game plan and for once we executed it.  I thought going in that Purdue was a little better than us.  Depth with our bigs was key, we were just going to keep throwing bigs at him.”

Ward would return, but he only played 11 minutes.  But it was the defense of Schilling and with 02.6 left Miles Bridges drilled a three-pointer to break a tie and put the Spartans up for good.

Matt Painter on the game, “He (Miles Bridges) earned it.  We lost today on a step back three-pointer.  Miles Bridges is a terrific player.  They have a lot of bodies to throw at you and they have a lot of people to put in there.  The game could have gone anyway.  It was a great game.”

Izzo said, “On the last play he was supposed to drive and get fouled, but when you are from Flint to hell with that you just jack a three and be done with that.”

Bridges would finish with 20 points and Cassius Winston had 10 as the only other double-digit scorer.  Winston had a double-double as he added 10 assists.  MSU won the battle of the boards 37-34.  MSU shot 48% while holding Purdue to 41%.  MSU had 21 assists on 29 baskets.

Izzo said of the enormity of the win, “You want to be in the position those last two weeks mathematically to win a championship.  When you play in a conference like this you don’t do it on your own.  This gives us another chance.  That was an NCAA deep tournament game and that proved we could play different ways.”

Entering today the Spartans are ranked #4.  With all three of the three teams ahead of them losing in the last week, you can almost certainly expect Michigan State to move up to at least #1 on Monday when the new polls are released.d.

The Spartans return to action on Tuesday night in Minneapolis against the Gophers.  That game tips off at 9 PM ET and can be seen on ESPN2.

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