The stands remained empty, but for good portions of tonight’s game the rafters were well attended as freshman (we’re getting real close to the phenom alliteration) Jaden Ivey took off and up to throw down dunks and deny shots at the rim.
Ivey’s highlight plays and Trevion Williams continued Spartan dominance lead Purdue to a regular season sweep of Coach Izzo’s team, this time with a 75-65 game they led most the game and finally pulled away late.
After the first matchup between Coach Painter and Coach Izzo ended with an unlikely come from behind victory for the Boilermakers at the Breslin Center, the Spartans were hoping to pay the favor back after trailing most the game, but Michigan St. could never get in a rhythm on offense and they had absolutely no answer for the big man inside.
But it was the true freshman’s spark on both ends of the floor that helped give Purdue the lead back in the second half and then extend it.
A double in the post gave Jaden Ivey an open three from the wing. He splashed it. Then came down the floor and rotated from the far corner to rise up and hang at the rim, almost having to wait as Thomas Kithier attempted to lay the ball in off a roll to the basket. His attempt was unsuccessful, swatted and collected by Ivey who pushed it up court and found Eric Hunter Jr. in the corner who hit Purdue’s second straight three.
The two back to back shots counted for 66% of Purdue’s production from the floor as they continued to struggle shooting from deep. They were just 3 of 12.
But Purdue’s defense held the Spartans to less than 45% from the shooting from the floor and they had Trevion Williams to do damage, again and again and again, from inside the paint.
The junior is making a strong push as most dominant big man in the Big Ten.
He was Purdue’s everything again on offense, and ruthlessly attacked Michigan St. from every angle in the post. He dropped 28 points to go with his 6 rebounds and tying for the team high with 3 assists.
Michigan State will be glad to avoid Williams for the rest of the season. He combined in their two matchups to score 53 points and grab 15 rebounds against them.
Purdue locked up Michigan St.’s best perimeter scorer Joshua Langford. Langford failed to score double-digits, going 3-11 from the field for just 9 points.
In a rare role reversal, Purdue’s defense forced a lot of turnovers while limiting their own, holding a 17-7 edge on turnovers and scored the margin of victory more from them.
Eric Hunter Jr. had arguably his best game of the season, continuing his campaign as one of the conference’s best defenders, but it was his ability to bail out the offense in the first half by getting to the basket that helped hold a small lead, and then his jumper that pulled them away. He dropped 15 points on 6 of 8 shooting.
Sasha Stefanovic continues to struggle since his return from COVID. When he went into quarantine he was the big ten’s leading three pointer shooter. He has yet to make one since his returned. He was scoreless in his 24 minutes.
Mason Gillis might be as sound a freshman that exists. He didn’t make a shot from the field, but he knocked down all 8 of his free throws and grabbed eight rebounds.
Purdue’s end of the season schedule continues to soften. They will play Nebraska Saturday at 6:30.