MSU wins top-five matchup on late Bridges three-pointer


EAST LANSING, Mich. — With 20 seconds left in the top-five matchup between No. 4 Michigan State and No. 3 Purdue, head coach Tom Izzo put the ball into the hand of sophomore sensation Miles Bridges.  Bridges dribbled to his right, stepped back and hit a dagger three with 2.6 seconds left, giving Michigan State a 68-65 lead, all the while sending the Breslin Center into delirium.

“I thought going in Purdue was a little better than us,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said.  “They had a lot more experience but we had the home court.  The crowd was a major force for us, no doubt about it.  The other part I thought we were better was depth.  Depth was very important.”

This was an important game at the top of the Big Ten with Michigan State (23-3, 11-2) and Purdue (23-3, 12-1) sitting third and second respectively in the league before the game.  After Saturday’s victory and Ohio State’s win over Purdue this past Wednesday, Michigan State sits in second place in the B1G behind Ohio State and ahead of Purdue on a tiebreak.

Purdue took an early 17-11 lead in the first seven and-a-half minutes, shooting 58 percent from the field and 43 percent from behind the arc.  Most of Purdue’s offense went through Isaac Haas in the opening minutes. This put Nick Ward and Jaren Jackson Jr in foul trouble early on, and Gave Purdue’s shooters open looks from three.

Going into halftime, Purdue held a 36-31 lead. Purdue’s Carsen Edwards led all scorers at halftime with 10 points, shooting 4-for-9 from the field. Meanwhile, Miles Bridges led Michigan State in scoring with nine.

“We stuck to our guns but in the last five minutes he fumbled it a little,” said Izzo.  “Ninety-nine percent we stuck to the game plan and that made Ward and Schilling look bad at some times, but we stuck with it and really should be giving the players the credit.”

It was a low-scoring first half as each possession became vital for both teams with buckets hard to come by. However, Purdue’s first-half three point shooting kept them in front. Purdue finished the half shooting 43 percent from the field and from 3-point range. Michigan State shot 48 percent from the field and 25 percent from three; however, they had six fewer attempts than Purdue.

“In the first half we did a poor job,” said Izzo.  “But to hold them without a three in the second half is a really excellent job.  Not turning the ball over follow the game plan and not give them any threes.”

The referees let both teams play early on, with few fouls called in the first half.  Neither Purdue or Michigan State reached the bonus in the first half. In fact both teams did not pick up their sixth fouls until under the two-minute mark.

Jackson Jr. had zero points on 0-for-1 shooting and only played five minutes in the first half. He was relegated to the bench for much of the first half due to picking up two early fouls.

Turnovers continued to be the Achilles’ heel for Michigan State, as they coughed up the ball five times before the break.  Purdue took advantage of Michigan State’s mistakes, scoring seven points off of MSU’s turnovers.  Meanwhile Purdue had no turnovers through the entire first half.

“They made a conscious decision to play Haas one on one, and if you are going to play him one on one then we are going to throw the ball his way,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said.  “He missed ten shots but still shot 60 percent for the game.”

After the intermission Purdue used Isaac Haas early and often.  The 7-foot-2 senior saw the ball on nearly every offensive possession in the beginning of the second half and was causing fits for MSU’s Nick Ward and Gavin Schilling down low.

“In the past I have played against Haas, so I kind of knew what to expect,” said Schilling.  “And I just tried to do my job against him the best that I could and I was successful.  I tried to play my best defense against him the whole game and obviously down the stretch he got a little exhausted or what not and I tried to stick to my principles.”

Michigan State gave plenty of early looks to Jackson Jr. early in the second half, but the MSU freshman could not get anything to fall. He was 0-for-4 from the field with three rebounds before picking up his third foul with 14:46 left in the half.

Michigan State took its first lead of the game with 9:03 in the second half on a Bridges jump shot from just inside the arc making it 57-55. Purdue responded with going back down low to Haas, who continued to cause trouble for Michigan State bigs.  

Turnovers became less of an issue for Michigan State, who only had one through the entire second half.

With just under four minutes remaining, Jackson Jr. returned to the game for Michigan State. He scored his first basket of the game with two minutes left. But he remained an anonymous figure throughout as those were his only points of the game. Purdue entered the bonus with 3:10 left in the half after Jackson Jr picked up his fourth foul and Michigan State’s seventh.

With 20 seconds left in the second half and the game tied at 65, Michigan State had a chance win the game in regulation. The ball came to Bridges at the top of the key, who took one dribble to his right before draining a three over Purdue’s Dakota Mathias.

“I knew I was getting the ball. One of the assistant coaches said ‘put the ball into Miles hand’ and they did,” said Bridges. “It was really supposed to be a clearance so I could get it to my right-hand dribble to the basket but I saw them back off and that’s when I shot the three.”

The Breslin Center erupted, and Michigan State had a 68-65 lead with 2.7 seconds left.  Lourawls Nairn fouled Vincent Edwards on Dakota Mathias’s inbound, sending Purdue to the line with a one-and-one opportunity.  Edwards missed the first free throw, which was rebounded by Jackson Jr. He was immediately fouled by Purdue with 1.7 seconds remaining.

Having just picked up its sixth foul, Purdue had one last chance to steal the ball from Michigan State upon the ensuing inbound.  However, Matt McQuaid was able to inbound the ball to Winston, who evaded Purdue defenders trying to send him to the line.

After a thrilling contest, it ended Michigan State 68, Purdue 65. Michigan State is now in tied in second place in the Big Ten standings with Purdue, trailing Ohio State by a game.

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