Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
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Michigan State's Miles Bridges hits game-winner vs. Purdue

Michigan State's Miles Bridges hits game-winner vs. Purdue

Michigan State and Purdue will need help to catch them. This afternoon should be very telling of how well Purdue can play when under a vast amount of pressure while being on the road against one of the nation's most talented teams. It hasn't been the best though. Its only conference victories are against Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Tipping-off at 6 PM, you can tune to the Big Ten Network to watch the first place Buckeyes attempt to hold court against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The difference though is that the Boilermakers game against the Buckeyes was an instant classic. Powerful Kelan Martin is averaging 20.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, while Kamar Baldwin is a fine complementary player with an average of 15.6 points per night. This team lost its dominating edge in the three-game run-up to the Ohio State defeat.

After those string of three games, the Spartans started this winning streak. Nick Ward, Jackson and Miles Bridges give Michigan State a long, athletic frontcourt.

Most of the positives that Michigan State did can be seen and evaluated by looking through the stat-lines. Nick Ward, Joshua Langford, Cassius Winston and Jaren Jackson Jr. are all averaging in double figures and quite hard to defend. And the Spartans added freshmen Xavier Tillman and Jaren Jackson Jr.

The Hurricanes have won five of their last six games, and they have a fine go-to-weapon in 6-11 sophomore forward Dewan Huell, who is averaging 12.8 points and shooting 59.6 percent from the field. MSU is putting up 83.7 points per game this season while allowing 65.3 per game on defense. Isaac Haas was the go-to player, scoring 17 of his 25 points in the second half to give the visitors a chance. He plays bigger as he averages 7.8 boards per game and has 16 blocks for the season. Zhaire Smith, another freshman guard, is averaging 10.5 points and connecting on 57.6 percent of his shots. Dakota Mathias has played outstanding for the Boilermakers as they were on a quest to find a point this season.

He then mentioned his team's resilience and how that will be tested as the season hits the stretch run.

The Boilers continued to lead as the second half wore on, but Michigan State remained close. Purdue found out Wednesday those deficiencies, however infrequent or brief, can be devastating. The more isolation that Haas did, the more exhausted he got. He also turned the ball over four times. However, they must first avoid a letdown tonight as they take on a struggling Iowa team. The Spartans bench is just as deep as any in the country. Nearly no one had them higher than 10th.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright said DiVincenzo also had his "best defensive game of the year" at the top of the zone.

Throughout the season Purdue has lived by the mantra, "Purdue won't beat Purdue".

Matt Haarms is the big body for Purdue that is a force every time he plays. Purdue is led in scoring by Carsen Edwards with 17 points per game. Since the passing of the torch from Heatchote to Izzo, the Spartans have only missed the NCAA Tournament twice (Izzo's first two years), seven Big Ten regular season titles, seven Final Four's and one national championship. They fight to protect it, the same as we do.

The Spartans lead all of Division I in field goal percentage defense. Purdue will take advantage of that in ways other teams don't.

"At least we've given ourselves a chance", Izzo said. They have a nice balance of upper and underclassmen.

"You've have to be able to box them out, you have to be able to guard them, and you have to be able to keep them out of transition".

Purdue vs. Michigan State odds: College basketball picks from model.

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