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February 9, 2013


Listen: Coach Matt Painter | Terone Johnson, A.J. Hammons and Ronnie Johnson| Michigan State coach Tom Izzo

PDF: PurdueMichigan State Box Score

Twelfth-ranked Michigan State issued Purdue yet another grueling test of both its physical and mental toughness Saturday night in Mackey Arena and, again, the Boilermakers failed.

The 78-65 Spartan win was highlighted by Michigan State gauging Purdue on the interior, out-rebounding it and finding ways to score pretty much whenever it needed to keep the Boilermakers at arm's length, but also by the home team's 14 impactful turnovers and inability to steady itself when things got difficult.

"It deflates us when we miss layups, when we miss free throws, or we take a bad shot," Coach Matt Painter said. "The other part is, when somebody makes a good play (against us), you have to keep battling, keep with it. It's self-inflicted at times, where we'll turn it over and they'll do down and get a three-point play. Or we'll miss a point-blank layup - and we missed like three point-blank layups in the first half - and then they're able to convert a couple of those into plays at the other end. That really deflates our team.

"We just don't have a mature pulse to our group. Little things really bother us, then it snow-balls."

Painter pointed to a handful of such sequences that more or less could have accounted for the differential.

One occurred in the first half, keying the stretch in which Michigan State pulled away for good.

The Boilermakers trailed by just one around the 13-and-a-half-minute mark of the first half. But after Branden Dawson scored, Ronnie Johnson missed a three-pointer, probably not the ideal shot Purdue was looking for. Jacob Lawson rebounded the miss, but missed a routine putback. At the other end, Gary Harris doubled the Spartan lead with a three-pointer. Dawson then scored on a breakaway layup off a Purdue turnover to cap a 7-0 run that put the Boilermakers in a hole they could never get out of.

"We were just so bad in the first half," Painter said. "We were lucky to be in the game at halftime. I felt very fortunate to even still be in the game after nine turnovers in the first half."

Not that it didn't have chances to be ever closer.

Michigan State didn't score in the final three minutes of the first half. Purdue took advantage by scoring five straight points to get within eight.

But A.J. Hammons missed the front end of a one-and-one with a minute and 15 seconds left and Terone Johnson didn't even get a shot off when an offensive rebound gave Purdue the last chance to score before halftime.

The Boilermakers were down just 31-23 after committing nine turnovers and not getting Hammons going offensively. He was just 1-of-6 in the first half, while Nix and Adreian Payne dominated on post-ups in one-on-one situations.

"That was the difference in the game," Spartan coach Tom Izzo said, "us getting the ball in there."

And ...

"The 50/50 balls in the first half, they were getting them all," Painter said. "They weren't getting every rebound - they only out-rebounded us by a couple - but when the ball was loose, Michigan State was getting it."

In the second half, Purdue cut it to six immediately on a Hammons hook shot, but the Boilermakers remained on a slippery slope, and an intentional foul call against D.J. Byrd proved to be the nudge it needed to avoid.

Dawson made two foul shots, then Harris scored off Purdue fumbling a defensive rebound. Like that, the lead was back in double-digits, on its way to peaking at 17.

"With some of the young guys we've got," Terone Johnson said, "things get into peoples' head too easily and things happen ... like a snow-ball effect."

Terone Johnson matched Dawson's game-high 20 points, but committed five turnovers, some of them by his own admission being "unforced."

Purdue turned the ball over several times trying to get the ball to Hammons; in the first half, when he got it, the ball wasn't going in.

The big man finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, but just three of those points came before the half.

"All of my shots weren't hitting so I kind of took myself out of the game in the beginning," Hammons said. "We had a great week of practice, but there were certain things I didn't do myself."

Ronnie Johnson finished with 15 points and eight assists, with three turnovers.

After not making a single three-pointer in its win at Penn State, Purdue was just 1-of-5 vs. Michigan State, with Byrd fouling out scoreless after getting off just one shot.

Nix scored 17, combining with Payne to score 29 between them.

Guard Keith Appling scored eight consecutive Spartan points in the second half to effectively put the Boilermakers away.

Afterward, Painter spoke highly of the Michigan State team while also making a not so thinly veiled critique of his own struggling group.

"They have a really good team," Painter said. "But more than anything ... they don't have people out there trying to do things they can't do. (Izzo's) done a good job with this group in terms of those guys playing their roles."

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