Spartans work through late fouls to top Purdue

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — No. 6 Michigan State extended its winning streak to nine, pushing past Purdue Tuesday night 77-59.

It was another solid game for junior guard Cassius Winston on the offensive end. Although the play seemed to stop, Winston was still able to drive lanes, put up threes and find his teammates for open shots.

Winston finished the game with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists.

“It was a war,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. “It was a tough physical battle…Cassius had to play too many minutes but if I had to go for a star of the game…for the minutes he played, the banging and everything, it was a tough game for him. Their defense just kept clamping down. He gave me everything he could give me.”

The Spartans struggled to find their groove when the game commenced. Collecting five turnovers within the first five minutes of the game, Michigan State trailed the Boilermakers 9-4 with 15:33 on the clock.

After a burst of energy from Aaron Henry and Nick Ward, the Spartans started to pick up the pace. A dunk and steal from Henry and some raw determination from Ward led to an aggressive dunk that put MSU up 9-8 six minutes in.

With Josh Langford out for a third straight game, Kyle Ahrens and Matt McQuaid were again in the starting lineup together. A McQuaid 3-pointer gave the Spartans a 17-16 lead with under ten minutes left in the first half.MSU went on an 11-0 run, putting them further in the lead at 23-16.

“It was a team effort,” McQuaid said. “We just made it really tough for them. Me and Aaron, we set a little goal for ourselves; we wanted to hold [Edwards] to as low as we could. It wasn’t just us though, we couldn’t have done it without the team.”

The Boilermakers struggled on offense towards the end of the first half, while the Spartans kept up the intensity with a 3-pointer from Kenny Goins and another from freshman Gabe Brown.

MSU ended the half in the lead at 39-26. The Spartans persevered through sloppy errors and forced more bad shots from Purdue to help them achieve their solid lead.

The second half began with eight foul calls within the first 5 minutes. The quick stops and slow starts hindered the game flow, but not the Spartans. Continuing their increase in scoring, Cassius Winston nailed a wide open-three to set fire to the Izzone. The environment was vibrant and full of intensity that rubbed off on the Spartans.

The momentum faded away after Tillman caught two fouls in under a minute. Purdue cut the MSU lead to 52-48 with 11:29 left after MSU went cold offensively.

Purdue threw up a few long-ranged shots and found lanes for easy-looking layups. While struggling to keep up with the Boilermakers, MSU became increasingly upset with the quantity of foul calls.

Although the calls multiplied, MSU pushed through. After a quick power dribble and solid step, Henry collected a layup for MSU, which was followed by a fast-break layup from Winston. This sequence put MSU further in the lead at 57-48, with just under 10 minutes on the clock.

“They were a lot more physical,” Winston said. “I worked for every bucket out there tonight…it’s not going to be easy, some games are going to be rougher than others. It was a war; bruising, fighting, battling. It just felt like that the whole game. The score doesn’t tell what the game really was.”

The game slowed down with an abundance of foul calls that drained the energy on the court. Ward collected his fourth foul after it was declared flagrant. The movement of the game was sluggish and stagnant. Goins led the boards for MSU with 11 rebounds.

After 28 fouls were called in the second half, 40 total, the game concluded with a Spartan win, 77-59.

The Spartans will head out to Penn State on Sunday, tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET.  

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