Spartans shoot their way past Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Gary Harris could tell something big was coming. He didn’t know it was going to be a record night.
Harris scored 25 points, Adreian Payne added 23 and No. 13 Michigan State hit a school-record 17 3-pointers in a 94-79 victory over Purdue on Thursday.
Harris and Payne combined to make 10 3-pointers for the Spartans (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten), who made 13 3s in the first half.
"When I saw (Payne) going I knew it was a good sign, just the way he came out shooting the ball," Harris said. "I knew it was going to be a good night from the jump just because of the energy we came out with and everybody was knocking down shots."
Harris’ six 3-pointers tied a career best set against Purdue last season. Payne’s four shots from behind the arc tied his career high.
Kendall Stephens had 19 points and Ronnie Johnson added 17 for the Boilermakers (15-11, 5-8), who have lost two of three.
Payne scored eight points to open the second half, including a 3-pointer, to give the Spartans a 57-43 lead.
Denzel Valentine converted a three-point play and made two free throws before connecting with Harris on an alley-oop pass to give Michigan State a 66-47 lead with 14:07 remaining.
Payne scored eight of Michigan State’s first 10 points of the game, making two free throws and two 3-pointers. The Spartans shot 63.6 percent from the field, were 8 of 11 from the free throw line, and did most of their damage from 3-point range. They had just one 2-point field goal in the first half.
And the Spartans finished with 26 assists on 30 field goals.
"I never heard a stat like that," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "Some of those stats were mind boggling."
Keith Appling, who finished with nine assists, played for the second straight game after missing three with a right wrist injury. He played 22 minutes and Izzo said it will still take time before Appling is back 100 percent.
The 17 3-pointers are the most made by the Spartans this season since making 14 against Virginia Tech on Nov. 22. It was the most the Boilermakers have given up since Northern Kentucky made 13 in the season opener.
"I just tried to take what the defense was giving me," Payne said. "It was like a green light shooting the ball."
The Spartans did just what they wanted: They bounced back from the team’s poorest offensive performance of the season — a 60-51 loss to Nebraska last week — and put themselves in position to win the Big Ten. With four regular season games left, the victory put the Spartans in sole position atop the Big Ten and they a chance extend the lead when they visit No. 20 Michigan on Sunday.
Purdue shot 49 percent from the field, including seven 3-pointers — four by Stephens.
The Boilermakers never did make it close once the Spartans took a 19-point lead early in the second half.
Ronnie Johnson hit a 3-pointer and Rapheal Davis made two free throws to make it 69-58, but Harris hit a 3 to give the Spartans a 72-58 lead with 9:02 remaining.
"We kept fighting and kept fighting, but they would come down and make some tough shots," Johnson said. "We broke down defensively. Defense wins games and we have to take defense a little bit more seriously."
Purdue went on an 11-3 run late in the opening half with Johnson converting a three-point play and Stephens making three free throws to make it 33-27.
Harris hit a 3-pointer before Davis made two free throws and Terone Johnson converted a three-point play to make it 36-32 with 4:57 left in the opening half.
Michigan State then hit three straight 3-pointers. Harris, Valentine and Russell Byrd hit from behind the arc to give the Spartans a 45-32 lead with 3:07 left in the half.