It's a rare game where a team can commit 22 turnovers and still win, but that was exactly the game that Michigan State played at Mackey Arena Sunday afternoon in defeating No. 3 ranked Purdue, 53-44.
The Spartans had six separate scoring droughts of 2:30 or longer, but a Robbie Hummel-less Boilermaker squad had no offensive options to answer in the face of the rugged MSU defense.
E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson managed more than half of Purdue's points, combining for 23, but the junior duo were also 7-of-27 from the floor, perfectly summing up the Boilers' afternoon.
As a team, Purdue could only shoot 30 percent (15-of-50), and were a sickly 6-of-32 in the second half.
Without Hummel's all-around offensive skill, the Boilers needed greater production from the likes of Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant, and Kelsey Barlow. While it appeared that Kramer and Grant were up to the challenge in the first half, with 14 points between them at the break, both disappeared after halftime, with only two points apiece.
Grant, in particular, struggled in the second half, lapsing back into the form that cost him his starting job in January. His second-half line: two points, two steals, three turnovers, one foul, and not a single field goal attempt.
Purdue missed Hummel's height on the boards as well, being out-rebounded by the Spartans 44 to 16. Michigan State managed 15 rebounds on the offensive end alone, helping to offset all the empty possessions caused by the still-ferocious Boiler defense.
Draymond Green and Raymar Morgan out-rebounded Purdue on their own, combining for 22 boards to go with their 28 points.
With players like Grant and Kramer seemingly unwilling to shoot down the stretch and others like Lewis Jackson, Kelsey Barlow, and Patrick Bade being simply incapable of scoring at any time, Purdue will face a very uncertain road in March.
In a post-Hummel climate that saw nearly every analyst either burying or simply neglecting Purdue in favor of elevating the likes of Syracuse and Duke, this loss has certainly dealt a death blow to the Boilers' chances at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. An early exit in the Big Ten Tournament would likely see them dropped to a No. 3.
The games are going to get ugly, as the Boilermakers may need to hold opponents under 50 to record more wins, particularly if they can't rely on even Moore and Johnson to produce in Hummel's absence.
The optimistic Boiler faithful can take solace in the fact that the final two regular-season games are against Penn State and Indiana, which may be universally considered "tune-ups" for the Boilers to find some offensive flow. Unfortunately, the odds aren't very good that the Nittany Lions and Hoosiers will get the memo, and both teams, especially Indiana, will be highly motivated to play spoiler.
Tournament games will be much like the one today against Michigan State, and if Purdue continues having problems finding someone, anyone, to go to on the offensive end, there won't be many tournament games to worry about.
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