Potent offense vs. relentless defense; outside shooting vs. post play; fast tempo vs. slow tempo… something has to give.
The No. 8 Michigan State Spartans (20-4, 7-4 Big Ten) hope to keep humming along as they make their way down south to Mackey Arena to face a stingy defense in the No. 18 Purdue Boilermakers (19-5, 7-4) on Tuesday night.
MSU will be facing a familiar foe: Caleb Swanigan. Purdue’s sensational freshman, who originally committed to Michigan State last year, shunned the Spartans to join the Boilermakers instead. This internal conflict will only throw more fuel into the fire.
The Spartans’ most recent game was an overall dominating performance against Michigan last Saturday, in an 89-73 triumph. Michigan State had a 16 point lead at halftime and they never looked back.
Denzel Valentine led the charge, coming up one rebound and two assists short of his third potential triple-double this season.
MSU shot a season-high 64 percent, going on a major scoring spree behind 64 combined points from the senior trio of Valentine, Bryn Forbes, and Matt Costello.
Forbes had the hot hand early on by hitting his first three shots, finishing 8 of 10 from three-point land with 29 total points. Valentine and Costello would continue the offensive fireworks, as Forbes’s high school teammate scored 21 points while Costello tallied 14 points.
Despite surrendering a season-high 19 turnovers, Michigan State soundly overpowered Michigan 35-20 on the glass. They also recorded 18 assists, with Valentine dishing eight of them.
Purdue’s last contest resulted in a 72-61 downfall to Maryland, mainly due to a second half letdown.
On the bright side, Purdue’s success is ultimately guided by their defense and interior play. The dangerous duo of AJ Hammons and Isaac Haas is a force to be reckoned with, as they constantly wear and tear defenders down low. Swanigan is another reliable weapon as well, who heavily contributes on the boards.
The biggest key is the guard play. We all know what Purdue’s Twin Towers and Michigan State’s Matt Costello and Deyonta Davis can do, but which club’s shooters can step up and knock down shots when the paint is completely clogged? Will the Spartans’ Valentine/Forbes and the Boilermakers’ Kendall Stephens/Vince Edwards be able to deliver?
MSU and Purdue are more similar than people think, as both rank in the top five nationally in rebounding and assists. That’s why second chance points are essential in this contest.
The Spartans have won seven straight matches in the series, with their last loss coming in 2011 at the Breslin Center. Can Purdue get back on track with a top ten win?