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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, February 10, 2018 9:20 pm

Final observations: Purdue vs. Michigan State

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

EAST LANSING, Mich. – After the loss to Ohio State, both Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards talked about cleaning up turnovers and improving on the glass. Purdue accomplished both of those goals Saturday against No. 4 Michigan State.

The Boilermakers committed just three turnovers and none until the 9:55 mark of the second half, more than 30 minutes into the game. That's compared to 12 against Ohio State, including a large number of passes that were mishandled or loose balls that got away. Purdue was much more secure with the ball Saturday and the turnovers it did have were mostly dead-ball turnovers on plays such as offensive fouls, rather than live-ball turnovers, such as steals. In that way, the Boilers were able to limit Michigan State's potent fast-break attack. The Spartans finished with only seven transition points, despite being a team that loves to run at every opportunity.

On the boards, the Boilermakers were outrebounded for the eighth straight game, but there were certainly encouraging signs in that area. Michigan State is one of the best rebounding teams in the country, and Purdue battled for every loose rebound, eventually getting 34 to the Spartans' 37, a much narrower margin than Michigan State normally enjoys. In addition, the Boilermakers outrebounded the Spartans on the offensive glass, pulling down eight offensive rebounds to just six for the home team. That also helped slow down Michigan State's fast-break offense.

With all of that said, it's difficult to be too pessimistic after this loss. Purdue won a lot of close games during its 19-game win streak and now it has happened to lose two close ones in a row against two ranked teams. There really isn't much to worry about as far as Purdue fans should be concerned. This was a game that was there for the Boilermakers, and they seemed on the verge of taking command at several moments before ultimately letting the Spartans back into it.

The one worry might be the emerging trend that Purdue seems to take its foot off the gas pedal when it gets a lead, rather than going for a knockout punch. It happened against Ohio State, when they went up 14 and immediately allowed a 9-0 run, and it happened when the Spartans rallied from 10 points and eight points behind in the first and second halves. P.J. Thompson made the same point after the game: the Boilers have to do a better job of controlling the game when they have a lead. The positive implicit in that problem is the Boilers are good enough to lead against anyone, including No. 4 Michigan State on the road. Purdue was, if not the better team, at least the equal of the Spartans. One Miles Bridges' shot doesn't change that.