Purdue has to wonder what it did to deserve the aerial assault that Michigan State produced on Thursday night. It wasn't the Boilermakers' fault that Michigan State was coming off a loss at Breslin to a Nebraska team that had only won half of its Big Ten games.
Adreian Payne started off the game innocently enough, winning the tip and nailing a three after a pass from Travis Trice. Ten minutes later, the Spartans had 25-16 lead without the luxury of hitting a two-point basket. By then Payne had already drained his a second trey, while Trice had gotten started with his first. Each would finish the game with four, but neither would surpass the output of Gary Harris.
Now a sophomore and a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate, Harris shot over 41 percent from behind the arc as a freshman. This season has been more touch-and-go, with the shooting guard entering the game mired in a 3-18 shooting slump from behind the arc. Harris took a few minutes to warm up, but he hit his first three-point shot seven minutes into the game. He finished with six threes on nine attempts for a game-high 25 points. The Spartans will need Harris to stay hot against Michigan, who beat them in East Lansing earlier this season.
The Spartans and Wolverines play on Sunday, and the winner will leave Ann Arbor as the leader in the Big Ten standings.
Road to the Title
Road to the Title
Russell Byrd, who gets very few chances from the field, even got into the action. A vocal leader on the team, Byrd drained his first three attempt. It was the 12th of the game and 13th of the first half for Michigan State. It was Byrd's second significant shot of the season, having hit the three that finished off the Spartans' overtime win in Iowa City.
The real tragedy was that Purdue didn't have a poor offensive showing. The Boilermakers wanted to party downtown as well, hitting half of their 14 three-point attempts 49 percent of their shots overall. Matt Painter just made a coaching mistake in allowing his players to even try to score two points at a time.