Bridges and MSU Overcome by Swanigan and Purdue

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EAST LANSING, Mich.– Michigan State (12-9 OVR, 4-4 B1G) returned to the friendly confines of Jack Breslin Student Events Center Tuesday night looking for a much needed win against Big Ten rival Purdue (17-4 OVR, 5-2 B1G) after losing two conference games in a row. But despite a rowdy Izzone and an early lead, the Spartans were defeated 84-73, as Caleb Swanigan led Purdue with an impressive 25 points and 17 rebounds, surpassing his season average of 18.5 PPG and 12.5 RPG.

The first half was dominated by Michigan State, who led by as much as eight points. That was until Purdue went on a 9-2 run in the final two minutes to turn the tide in their favor. But with six seconds remaining, Miles Bridges took the ball coast-to-coast and connected on an acrobatic layup as time expired in the first half to have the score knotted up at 39 apiece. That was just the beginning of what the freshman phenom had in store.

He went for 33 points, a career-high and MSU freshman-record, along with seven rebounds in 36 minutes of play. He was the only Spartan to finish the game in double figures. Nick Ward finished with nine points and only one rebound, Eron Harris also added nine and Cassius Winston scored eight for the Spartans.

The second half was controlled by Purdue from the get-go, much in part thanks to Swanigan, who scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 18 minutes of play in that half.

Purdue coach Matt Painter was pleased with his sophomore’s performance.

“I thought he was good,” he said. “He showed a lot of poise, a lot of maturity for a young guy. He’s taking shots in rhythm. We just wanted to get more opportunities. [Swanigan] got on the boards late and that gave us a great chance.”

The home crowd repeatedly booed Swanigan every chance they got. He originally committed to the Spartans before decommitting and choosing Purdue. But none of that phased the Fort Wayne, Ind. native.

Both teams committed 13 turnovers, and both teams also capitalized on them. Purdue scored 18 points off TO’s, while MSU scored 17. Where this game was won for Purdue, though, was on the glass. The Boilermakers out-rebounded Michigan State 36 to 23 with Swanigan corralling nearly half of their boards. Purdue also had 15 second-chance points to MSU’s five, and shot 52 percent from three-point range to MSU’s 46 percent.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was also delighted with his team’s performance on Tuesday night despite the result.

It’s just disappointing,” the Hall of Famer said. “I thought we deserved more than that. But give them credit, they were relentless […] [this team is]going to have to learn. I think the game was lost in that eight or nine-point lead when we had no players left [towards the end of the second half]. I thought we played damn good in a lot of ways.”

But according to Izzo, Bridges “could care less,” about the scoring record.

“I’m gonna throw more on his plate. He’s gonna be one tired dude [when the season ends],” he said with a smile. “Nobody should be disappointed with the effort we showed tonight.”

Bridges remained confident in his squad post-game.

“We’re never going to lose confidence,” he said. “It’s always frustrating when you lose, but we made plays. There’s always more you can do to win. It just shows that our team has a lot of toughness.”

He also added that his impressive performance came from his mentality more than anything else.

“That’s what happens when I stay aggressive. If I think too much, then I’ll have bad games,” he said.

“We’re going through a lot of adversity,” Bridges went on to explain. “Injuries, losing games we should have won […] if we can pull this out and make the tournament and go far, it’ll be a good story to hear about.”

Michigan State will face off against in-state rival Michigan on Sunday Jan. 29 at Breslin Center, looking to snap their three-game losing streak.

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