Purdue-Michigan St. Preview
After two straight road losses, Michigan State should be eager to return home - even with a Purdue team it has not beat at the Breslin Center in almost three years waiting there.
The ninth-ranked Spartans look to avoid dropping three straight Big Ten games for a third consecutive season Saturday against the Boilermakers, who are trying to win their third straight visit to East Lansing.
A week ago, Michigan State (15-4, 4-2) was riding a 15-game winning streak and sitting atop the Big Ten standings. The streak ended with an 81-74 loss at Northwestern last Saturday, and that was followed by a 60-59 defeat at rival No. 20 Michigan on Tuesday.
The current scenario is similar to the past two seasons, when the Spartans lost consecutive league road games in January then returned home only to lose - 61-57 to the Wolverines in 2011 and 76-64 to then-No. 6 Purdue in 2010.
Now, Michigan State looks to stop that trend and improve to 12-0 at the Breslin Center on the season.
"We know (Michigan State) is going to come out and give everything they got," Purdue guard Lewis Jackson told the school's official website. "Being at home, they are going to use that crowd to their advantage."
Though the Spartans might be fired up mentally, coach Tom Izzo would like to see some improvement on the physical side.
Michigan State outrebounded the Wolverines 31-18 on Tuesday, but allowed the hosts to shoot 51.1 percent and guard Stu Douglass to make the winning layup with 36.5 seconds remaining.
"I've got a pretty good basketball team that for the first time didn't play with the toughness that I'd like us to play with," Izzo said. "We've got a couple-three guys who are going to have to get tougher, and they will."
Senior forward Draymond Green (15.4 points per game, 10.1 rebounds per game) grabbed nine boards against Michigan but was held to a season-low seven points. Guard Keith Appling, averaging 12.7 points, was held to 10 - a season low in conference play - and finished with four turnovers.
Appling has averaged 19.7 points and 6.7 assists in his last three home games.
Though the Spartans have averaged 82.3 points and held opponents to 59.1 per game at Breslin this season, Purdue (14-5, 4-2) has shot 49.5 percent while winning its last two visits there by a combined 32 points.
Michigan State has been held to 32.7 percent shooting in those two contests.
Green has totaled 33 points, shot 14 of 27 and pulled down 22 rebounds in his last two games at Purdue. However, he was held to 13 points while missing 21 of 25 shots and recording eight boards in the last two home meetings against the Boilermakers.
Purdue has not won three straight in East Lansing since a five-game run from 1993-98.
"They are a great team," said Jackson, who had 16 points and seven assists in the Boilermakers' 67-47 road win over the Spartans last Feb. 27. "They've got a lot of weapons. It's another great test for us."
Purdue, 2-1 on the road in the Big Ten, is coming off a 75-68 home victory over Iowa on Tuesday. Robbie Hummel had 17 points and 11 rebounds as the Boilermakers overcame a five-point halftime deficit by outscoring the Hawkeyes 44-32 in the second half.
Healthy again, Hummel (16.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg) has averaged 14.5 points in four career games against the Spartans but has not faced them since 2009-10.