Top-ranked Purdue finishes consecutive games against teams from the state of Michigan on Sunday afternoon when it hosts Michigan State at West Lafayette, Ind.
Purdue (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) has grown more proficient at closing out games, as it did on Thursday night when it held on to beat Michigan 75-70 in Ann Arbor, Mich. National Player of the Year candidate Zach Edey tallied 19 points and nine rebounds.
The Boilermakers already needed a superior effort from Edey (32 points, 17 rebounds) to hang on for a 64-63 win over the Spartans (14-7, 6-4) in East Lansing, Mich., on Jan. 16.
Against Michigan, Edey, who is averaging 21.4 points, 13 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, went head-to-head in the paint with former Purdue recruit Hunter Dickinson, who finished with 21 points. Edey scored 15 of his points in the first half, including his first seven by attacking the basket and going right at Dickinson. Edey shot 7 of 12 in the first half.
“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand, which is huge.”
But Purdue needed more than just Edey as Fletcher Loyer scored 17 points and Braden Smith added 10.
Loyer is averaging 13 points and 2.5 assists per game, and won Big Ten Player of the Week honors earlier in the month.
“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.
Michigan State also had to be clutch late when it closed out a 63-61 home victory over Iowa on Thursday night.
Tyson Walker, who finished with 10 points, made a huge long-range jumper with 1:24 left to give the Spartans a 61-59 lead just after being sidelined with a foot injury for several minutes in the second half. Jaden Akins scored 12 points and also hit a shot late to help seal the win.
Michigan State, which saw the return of Malik Hall to its lineup after missing the previous three games with a left foot injury, erased a 10-0 deficit to open the game.
“I should give us more credit than I do for that,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I just keep saying why the hell are we starting out that way. There’s no quit in our guys. We compete. We played. We found a way.
“I look at Purdue, and I love what Matt (Painter) does, but they’ve had three or four games down to the wire that they’ve won ’em all. We’ve won a few and lost a few. Nobody’s going through this thing playing good every night.”
The Spartans pulled it off in large part to the key contribution from Hall. He finished with 11 points, four assists and three rebounds.
“If I had to pick a No. 1 star it was Malik, because, to do what he did with two days of practice, maybe a couple of walk-throughs last week, and really hasn’t practiced much,” Izzo said. “(He’s practiced) maybe two weeks in the last 2 1/2 months.”
–Field Level Media