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February 19, 2012

Spartans take one-game lead with win at Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Draymond Green had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Austin Thornton scored a career-high 17 points to lead Michigan State (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) past short-handed Purdue 76-62 Sunday.

By winning their second straight in West Lafayette and sweeping the Boilermakers this season, the Spartans (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) took a one-game lead in the conference title chase.

Purdue (17-10, 7-7) had a three-game winning streak snapped. Robbie Hummel scored 24 points to lead the Boilermakers, who played without starting guard Kelsey Barlow and swingman D.J. Byrd.

Both were disciplined after a Friday night incident outside a local bar.

"Hummel is one of the best players in the Big Ten and it is amazing what that kid has done considering the injuries he has had and bouncing back the way he has," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "He has done a phenomenal job and they battled the whole way. You have to give Matt (Painter) a lot of credit because nobody knows what distractions are like more than I do."

After taking a 38-35 halftime lead, Purdue started the second half by going 1-of-23 from the field and Michigan State took control with a 27-8 run.

"We talked about some defensive things (at halftime)," said Izzo. "We did a poor job of stepping up on ballscreens and they hit some shots in the first half. We didn't do a very good job of moving the ball. We went through Day Day in the second half. I just told him, 'we are going through you. That doesn't mean that you take every shot. He didn't."

Green continues to pace the Big Ten in double doubles. The third-year Spartan captain recorded his 15th double double of the season at Purdue, but he was far the only significant contributor for Michigan State.

"It is hard to find a star when (Austin) Thornton does what he does and then Green does what he does and (Branden) Dawson does what he does and (Derrick) Nix might have been our real big surprise," said Izzo. "Keith Appling even though he only had seven points and he ran our team."

Dawson finished the game with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting. The Gary (Ind.) product finished one ahead of Green for the team lead with 11 rebounds.

Nix set the tone for the Spartans in the paint with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The junior from Detroit played 25 minutes against Purdue.

Michigan State has cut down on turnovers substantially during the past two games. The Spartans had just nine turnovers against the Boilermakers after committing 10 turnovers during a decisive victory No. 15 ranked Wisconsin on Thursday.

"When Appling has five assists and one turnover and Green has seven assists and one turnover, that is big for this team," Izzo said. "That and the fact that we only turned it over nine times against Purdue, I'd say that those are all super positives."

With Travis Trice unavailable because of an ankle injury, freshman wing Brandan Kearney played increased minutes at the point for the second straight game.

"(Brandan) Kearney was a little bit shaky today," Izzo said. "We've got to get more out of Brandan and yet he went back in the second half and played well. We are making progress, slowly but surely and that is what is important."

Senior point guard Lewis Jackson scored 15 points for Purdue. For the most part, Izzo was pleased with the way his team defended the quick Purdue point guard.

"(Appling) got a little bit frustrated at times, but guarding that man is tough," Izzo said. "I am a big (Lewis) Jackson fan. He gets in the paint, he pushes it, and if you give him an inch he is by you. I just thought he did a pretty good job considering with (Travis) Trice we didn't have as many subs. Kearney went in during the first half and he struggled. When he went in during the second half he was much better."

With the exception of Anthony Johnson, who scored 10 points off the bench during the second half, Michigan State shut down Purdue's offense during the second half.

"They were up over 50 percent most of the first half," Izzo said. "We did clamp down most of the second half, but I didn't realize it was that good. But that says a lot about this team. We won it with some turnovers, some defensive plays and some breakouts. You have to give our guys credit for that. Again, great job by my staff scouting and great job by the players."

Michigan State's second-half defense was aided by some wrinkles the Spartans haven't shown much during the 2011-2012 season.

"We started switching four," said Izzo, "doing some things and that is the advantage that we have with this team. Dawson is so much better than he was defensively to the point where now we can throw in some defensive wrinkles that we couldn't earlier in the season. I think that has made a big difference and I think it has helped us. Thornton is playing pretty good defense. (Brandon) Wood is a little bit better than he was and Dawson was lot better than he was."




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