Three Thoughts as Michigan State Reamed Purdue

Posted by Walker Carey on February 21st, 2014

Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Thursday night’s game between Michigan State and Purdue in West Lafayette.

Michigan State entered Thursday night’s game at Purdue in dire need of a victory. The Spartans had lost three of their last five games and were still struggling with the effects of injury bug. Tom Izzo’s squad also had to make sure that they did not fall a game behind Michigan in the loss column in the Big Ten standings before Sunday’s clash in Ann Arbor. The Spartans took the lead from the first possession Thursday night and never looked back. After scoring just 51 points in this past Sunday’s home loss to Nebraska, Michigan State exploded for 49 first half points and cruised to a 94-79 road victory to set up a monumental showdown Sunday at the Crisler Center.

The following are three thoughts from Thursday’s action:

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo watches from the sideline as Michigan States Adreian Payne (5) puts up a three-point shot in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in West Lafayette, Ind. Michigan State defeated Purdue 94-79. Payne scored a game-high 23 points in the game. (AP)

Tom Izzo watches from the sideline as Adreian Payne puts up a three-point shot. Michigan State defeated Purdue 94-79. Payne scored 23 points in the game. (AP)

  1. When Gary Harris And Adreian Payne Are Firing On All Cylinders, Michigan State’s Offense Is Nearly Impossible To Contain. Harris has struggled with inconsistency recently in Big Ten play and Payne missed seven games with a foot injury, but both players displayed their standout ability Thursday. After just a 5-of-15 shooting performance in the loss to Nebraska, Harris was in the zone all evening against Purdue, finishing with 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 6-of-9 from behind the three-point line. When Harris was not lighting up Purdue, it was Payne doing the honors. The senior big man finished with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting and displayed his versatility with a 4-of-8 performance from behind the three-point line. Harris and Payne are not only Michigan State’s most talented players, they are two of the most talented players in the Big Ten. Their spectacular outings Thursday in West Lafayette showed just how dominant the Spartans’ offense can be on a given night.
  2. Michigan State’s Offensive Efficiency Was Remarkable. The Spartans’ 94-point scoring outburst was their Big Ten high for the season. Amazingly enough, the 94 points came on just 52 total shot attempts. After shooting just 34% overall in the loss to Nebraska, Michigan State shot 57.7% overall from the field Thursday night (including a ridiculous 63.6% mark in the first half). Aiding to the incredible night from the field was a smoldering hot performance from behind the three-point line. The Spartans set a school record with 17 made three-pointers and shot at a 53.1% clip from behind the arc. Of those 17 made three-pointers, 13 came in the first half. The shooters did not do it by themselves for Tom Izzo’s squad, as it recorded a sensational 26 assists on 30 made field goals. When Michigan State has an offensive outburst like it did at Purdue, poor performances like in the Nebraska loss, seem like merely a mirage.
  3. Purdue’s Season Long Inconsistency Continues. Matt Painter’s squad recorded its biggest victory of the season its last time out with an 82-64 victory over intrastate rival, Indiana this past Saturday. The Boilermakers were locked in defensively throughout the victory, as Indiana struggled to generate anything offensively and shot just 32.2% overall. Instead of the defensive intensity carrying over Thursday night, Purdue’s defense took a step back. Not to take anything away from Michigan State’s incredible shooting performance, but Purdue’s defense allowed many open looks throughout the game and struggled mightily in transition. The Boilermakers had a solid night offensively, totaling 79 points on a respectable 49% mark from the field, but their defensive lapses did not give them a chance to grab the victory. The differences in Saturday’s win and Thursday’s defeat were vast, but that should be expected from a 15-11 Purdue team that has been all over the board this season.
WCarey (279 Posts)

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