EAST LANSING, Mich. – Purdue erased a 17-point deficit in the second half and beat No. 23 Michigan State tonight when center Trevion Williams dropped in a tear-drop shot from six feet for a 55-54 victory. Williams led the way with 26 points. Aaron Henry missed at the buzzer for Purdue.
- Trevion Williams came to play: Purdue's second-half comeback was mostly on the back of the Boilermakers' junior center, who imposed his will after halftime. After scoring just two points in the first half, Williams had 24 in the second and was a source of consistent offense for Purdue when it desperately needed it. Again and again the Boilers went to Williams in the post and although he had his shot blocked a few times, he worked extremely hard to get good position and continued to go strong to the rim. He scored seven straight Purdue points during two separate stretches and this was a game during the final minutes because Williams refused to let Purdue get run off the floor. Michigan State had an athleticism advantage on the perimeter, but the Boiler big man was an equalizer in the middle.
- The offense needs to be better: Purdue didn't play poorly on the offensive end, but it was not dynamic enough with the ball. The Boilermakers shot 34%, including 26% in the first half and went 3 for 24 from beyond the 3-point line, including 0 for 12 in the first half. Michigan State is a longer, more athletic team right now and if Purdue didn't have Williams' heroics, it would have had no chance tonight. The Boilermakers not only didn't make any 3s in the first half, they didn't make any mid-range 2s. All of their first-half field goals were at the rim and half of them came in one minute-long stretch from freshman Jaden Ivey, who took over the game and gave Purdue a little life.
- Eric Hunter Jr. needs to be better: Hunter is probably Purdue's best backcourt player, or at least he was earlier in the season. Right now, he is going through the worst stretch of his career and that has made the Boilermakers far more one-dimensional on offense. In the junior guard's last three games, he is 3 for 21 from the field (2 for 14) and did not score a basket for three consecutive halves before making a 3 in the second half tonight. With such a young team, the Boilers need their veteran leadership to play at least consistently, if not always well. Hunter has not provided that in recent games and Matt Painter needs to find some way to get him going again. The coup de grace was Hunter throwing the ball directly to Michigan State with 30 seconds left, nearly costing the Boilermakers a chance to win. He did redeem himself a little with a terrific steal with 10 seconds to go.
Player of the Game: Trevion Williams
Williams was Purdue's offensive center of gravity in the second half, not only getting his own shots, but creating some space for Boilermaker shots and drives. He finished with nine rebounds, two assists and a block in addition to his 26 points. It was his third 20-point performance this season and second in the last three games. No other Purdue player had more than seven points. He went 9 for 14 from the field and 8 for 12 at the foul line.
Purdue is coming off a postponed game against Nebraska because of coronavirus cases within the Cornhusker program. ... The cancellation means this will be the third of four straight road games for Purdue. The Boilermakers have not played four straight true road games since 1959-60. They are 1-4 in true road games this season. ... Purdue has also played four straight road games against ranked opponents (Iowa, Rutgers, Illinois and Michigan State). That had not happened since 1988-89. ... Boilermakers coach Matt Painter coached his 524th game with Purdue tonight, passing Ward "Piggy" Lambert for second on the all-time Boilermaker list. ... Painter and Spartans coach Tom Izzo are the second- and eighth-winningest coaches in Big Ten history. This was the first time since March 5, 2015 – when Izzo and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan did so – that two coaches in the top 10 faced off. ... Michigan State out-rebounded No. 15 Rutgers 43-21 in its previous matchup. The Spartans were out-rebounded by Purdue 37-31 tonight. ... Michigan State went without a field goal for 12:01 in the second half. The Spartans shot just 22.2% after halftime. ... Spartans guard Foster Loyer is the brother of Purdue commit and Homestead guard Fletcher Loyer. ... Michigan State came into the game No. 7 nationally in assists with 19.8 per contest. The Spartans had 12 assists tonight.
Purdue has five days off before its next matchup, which is on the road at Assembly Hall in Bloomington against in-state rival Indiana (7-5, 2-3 Big Ten). The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. The Boilermakers have owned the rivalry in recent years, winning seven straight and 10 of the last 11, the best stretch for Purdue in the series since the 1930s. Indiana is scheduled to be coming off a road matchup against Nebraska on Sunday, but it's unclear whether that game will be played because the virus situation at Nebraska.