East Lansing, MI
Last year Purdue blamed poor weather and having to ride a bus to East Lansing on the day of the game for the loss to the Spartans. This year the sun was out, almost no snow and the Spartans still whipped the Boilermakers of their pride and a B1G win. MSU destroyed the Boilers 84-61. It was a blowout.
After losing in Minneapolis to start the B1G season MSU responded in a monster way. Senior captain Derrick Nix was more vocal than I have ever seen him and despite what looks like weak stats he was a force. He had 10 points; two steals and was four of four from the charity stripe. Izzo said of Nix’s performance, “I have blind faith in him. We have been challenging him. Derrick still has his moments, but I really enjoy he can come on the bench, be upset and work his way out of it.”
Nix added, “I feel like I have to take my leadership to another level. For that to happen, even when I am not making shots, you can’t stop leading, do those little things coach is always talking about.”
Purdue head coach Matt Painter was not poetic in the loss. He said of the game, “We felt we had to get the ball inside and steal something. We need to continue to be aggressive. As a coach you try to control the things you can and we just had too much we couldn’t control. Gary Harris really killed us.”
Izzo was obviously more encouraged by the game. Saying, “I think we beat a good team. Still not playing like we need to play if we are going to make a difference in this league. That is a good, extremely well coached, tough team.”
Gary Harris and Branden Dawson are both Indiana products and have been the object of great scorn by Purdue fans angry that they didn’t attend the school. They responded with monster games. Harris led the way with 22 points and was more emotional than at any time in his short Spartan career. He was also six of eight from three.
Harris was visibly happy and said, “It felt good. We are in the Big Ten now and you have to play every game with more emotion and that was what I tried to do and I think I did.”
Dawson had a double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. More importantly he was equally emotional. Dawson said of his play, “It felt amazingly great. I could have and should have done some more, but I want to smile and I want to play more upbeat. Coach constantly telling me he want me to smile more and show that I am having fun and playing the game.”
The Spartans improve their record on the season to 12-3 and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
The Spartans next B!G game is Thursday at Iowa. That game is a 7 PM tip and will be shown on ESPN 2.