The Michigan State Spartans came into Mackey as the hottest team in the country, winners of their last 13, and undefeated in the Big Ten.
They ran into a Boilermaker buzz saw in the first half. Purdue, coming off four straight wins of their own, outscored the Spartans 22-19 in the first half... with their bench. In the hostile environment of Mackey Arena, the Spartans couldn’t do anything right in the first half. They shot 7 of 31 from the floor, made just 3 threes, went to the line just twice, and turned the ball over six times.
For Purdue, everything was working, especially their bench. In a half where Purdue’s two leading scorers, Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline, combined to go 3 of 17 from the floor, the bench was 9 of 10 including 4 of 5 from three.
The Boilers went into the half with a 37-19 lead.
Despite a late surge and pulling within four points late in the game, the lead was too much to overcome and Purdue pulls off the upset over #6 Michigan St., 73-63.
The Boilers got even hotter to start the second half, with Cline and Edwards both making early threes and Purdue pushed the lead to as much as 23 points.
And then Michigan St. came alive with a 19-2 run in five minute stretch that pulled Purdue’s lead to single-digits.. The shots that weren’t falling started to, and the pressure Purdue had been applying started to slip. Purdue went cold with Carsen Edwards forcing difficult jumpers and senior Matt McQuaid making his life difficult.
The national player of the year candidate struggled throughout the night with his shot. He had just 14 points on a 4 of 19 shooting night.
But Ryan Cline made just enough shots, and Purdue found salvation at the line from an unlikely source.
Coming into the game, Nojel Eastern was a combined 39-86 from the free throw line in his career. So with around two minutes in the game and just a six point lead for Purdue, Coach Izzo called for the hack-a-Eastern game plan.
After making his first two free throws of the game, and then missing his next two, Eastern walked up to the game with the full weight of what would be a historic collapse on his shoulder. He would sink one free throw, and then another, and then another. For three possessions Eastern was sent to the line, and those six free throws all had the same fate: going up and then through the net.
Nojel Eastern continues to be a do everything guard, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 boards for his second double-double of the year.
Eastern put the game away at the line, and Ryan Cline finished all hope when he hit a step back jumper with just over a minute left in the game. The senior would finish the game with 17 points including going 5 of 10 from the three point line.
The win is now Purdue’s fifth straight.
They will now go on the road to play Penn St. on Thursday night.