#6 MSU Stays Undefeated in Big Ten with 77-59 Win Over Purdue

Cassius Winston vs Purdue (PHOTO:  MSU SID)
Cassius Winston vs Purdue (PHOTO: MSU SID)

Breslin Center

East Lansing, MI

A different team faced the Spartans tonight, but it was the same result. The #6 Michigan State Spartansimproved their record on the year to 14-2 (5-0) with a 77-59 win over the Purdue Boilermakers.

The Spartans were led by Cassius Winston who had 23 points, six rebounds and five assists. Nick Ward had 19 points and nine rebounds. Xavier Tillman rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points and five rebounds.

The Spartans were led by Cassius Winston who had 23 points, six rebounds and five assists. Nick Ward had 19 points and nine rebounds. Xavier Tillman rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points and five rebounds.

Tom Izzo said, “It was a strange game. I think the score was not indicative of the game; It was a war and Gene Keady would've been proud, Jud Heathcote. It was a tough, physical battle that I didn't think we did a very good job in the first half for the second game in a row and I think we had some guys that played an incredible level. Cassius (Winston) again had to play too many minutes, but if I had to go for a star of the game, Kenny (Goins) rebounded well. Nick (Ward) bounced back; Had some incredible stats for a game I didn't think he was as sharp in. Matt McQuaid was unbelievable, you know? We guarded him (Carsen Edwards) the way we wanted to, we ran him off screens, we had our big's help out. I thought everything we were going to do was foot, step, chase. That kid is a hell of a player. I just think that Matt, and in the second half, I thought Aaron Henry also did a good job on him. We weren't sharp early; We win the tip and watch the ball go out of bounds; Give it to Nick on the first play, shoot an air ball. We just didn't seem as sharp. To their credit though, we bounce back second half to the first half and just weren't quite ourselves in the second half. That is a good team. That is a 9-6 team, but you look at their losses – at Michigan, #2; at our place, number whatever we are; at Florida State, #9; at Texas. Those games were by one point, a couple of those games. Then Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, another top 10. They've got to have the best strength of schedule in America. Purdue is a good team and you'll never have a game like that again, I bet because (Carsen) Edwards, he's only been under 20 points twice all year until tonight. It was partly us, but I think he missed some shots too, maybe, like Cassius, you wear down when you got to do so many things. I was pleased with the win. It was a wild game though, and I was a little disappointed in how we were early; We got to figure that out. We looked really tired and boy, we didn't do much in practice. It'll be good; We have a little longer extended stay here with tomorrow completely off and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. I'll meet with my captains and figure out what we've got to do to get our energy back a little bit.”

Purdue head coach Matt Painter said, “I thought they were just so much quicker to the basketball when the ball was loose. I thought we would do some good things and have some good defensive stops but what does that mean if you cannot get the rebound. I think that really deflated us at times. They get an offensive rebound and (Matt) McQuaid would hit a three. They get a team rebound that would go out on us and then execute an offensive play and score. You have to be able to finish plays. The one thing that Michigan State is going to do is embrace the physicality of the game. You have to learn to be able to match that without fouling and getting them to the free throw line... also being able to disengage from it and go and get the basketball. They were better than us at that.”

Tom Izzo added of the game, “No, if you look at their stats, they hadn't played this good of a defense. Most bigger teams to me just haven't been as physical. I think Gene must've called that because I thought they were; It was a war. It was Cassius. Boy he…. The minutes he played, the banging and everything; It was a tough game for him. I thought he did a pretty good job when McQuaid went in foul trouble. It seemed like their defense just kept climbing down, but they missed some shots too when it got to seven. They were a much better defensive team than I've seen all year too, so hats off to them.”

Painter added of the tilt that, “We wanted to double Nick (Ward) as much as we could but you also can't allow them to go high low all the time where Nick is right at the basket. Nick has done a very good job of getting his body in shape and has worked hard. He runs the court and is doing more things now to help his cause and put himself in a better post position. We wanted to keep him away from the rim and if we didn't double him we wanted him in a post move instead of a dunk or layup or letting him get to the free throw line. We missed on a couple oftimes when we should have doubled. He is not the only player on their team and that is what is tough. We obviously have had a lot of success with big guys and people that double us...sometimes it is the best thing for us. You have got to be careful when you go to get him because you have to double him but have a quick double. That is what we tried to do and obviously, he got in a little bit of foul trouble in the second half so he didn't play quite as much. Nick, we have a lot of respect for him. He has worked really hard but we just didn't want any layups, or dunks or free throws. If he could make a post move or two or double him and get him frustrated that could help us a lot. I thought in stretches we did but we just weren't good in rebounding the basketball and those other areas that I mentioned.”

The Spartans shot 45% from the field including 33% from the three. The Spartans shot an improved 84% from the free throw line and had 20 assists on 26 baskets.

F Kenny Goins said, “Well you know you gotta be proud of a lot of guys on this team. A lot of guys stepped up. Cassius did his thing and McQuaid with his defense. Also, he's one of the most prolific scorers in the league right now. Kyle Ahrens put his body on the line even though he's had back issues. Just everyone top to bottom really gutted one out, so you gotta be proud of the fight they had in them. We fought through and made it to the end.”

The Spartans led the battle of the boards 47-34. Unfortunately, the Spartans had 14 turnovers.

Izzo played 12 players including all of the five freshmen. Aaron Henry the true freshman guard played 22 minutes.

The Spartans return to Big Ten action against Penn State on Sunday in Happy Valley. The tilt tips off at 1:30 PM and can be seen on CBS.

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