Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News breaks down Michigan State's 77-59 win over Purdue. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
East Lansing — Cassius Winston had another big offensive night on Tuesday, but the Michigan State guard was clear about who stole the show at the Breslin Center.
The junior guard scored 23 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out five assists as No. 6 Michigan State won a slugfest against Purdue, 77-59, at the Breslin Center for its ninth straight victory.
But those weren’t the most eye-opening numbers.
Instead, it was the fact Michigan State — namely senior guard Matt McQuaid with an assist from freshman Aaron Henry — held Purdue’s Carson Edwards, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, to a season-low 11 points on just 3-for-16 shooting, including 2-for-13 from 3-point range.
“That won us the game,” Winston said. “The way that team was playing if he got going it would have been real ugly for us. They cut it to four or something and if he made couple more shots it’s a whole different type of game.
“They won this game today.”
From start to finish, McQuaid dogged the Purdue junior, who was held to less than 20 points just twice this season, scoring 19 in a win over Robert Morris and a loss at Michigan. And when McQuaid got into foul trouble in the second half on Tuesday, Henry picked up the slack.
“Matt McQuaid was unbelievable,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “We guarded him the way we wanted to. We ran him off screens, we had our bigs help out. I thought we did everything we had to do. That kid is a helluva player.
“I just think Matt and second half (was good) and I thought Aaron Henry also did a good job on him.”
It was exactly how the Spartans drew things up.
“Me and Aaron set a little goal for ourselves and we wanted to hold him to as low as we could,” McQuaid said. “But like I said, it wasn’t just us. We couldn’t have done it without the team. A lot of guys did a lot of good things.”
While most of those good things were on the defensive side of the ball, the Spartans (14-2, 5-0 Big Ten) got enough going offensively to pull away early in the second half then thwart a potential Purdue comeback late.
In addition to Winston, Nick Ward scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Xavier Tillman scored 11 and Kenny Goins grabbed 11 rebounds. McQuaid added nine points in addition to shutting down Edwards.
The game itself was a classic Big Ten battle, with bodies banging and blood being drawn.
“It was a war,” Winston said. “It felt like bruising, fighting, battling. It felt like that the whole game. The score doesn’t tell how the game really was. It was a battle out there tonight.”
MSU's Matt McQuaid, Cassius Winston on win over Purdue Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
For a brief few minutes after the opening tip, Purdue controlled the game. It didn’t last long, even after the Boilermakers took a quick seven-point lead less than five minutes into the game.
The slow start merely delayed the beginning of another efficient offensive performance to go along with suffocating defense for the Spartans. They used a 13-2 run to turn a 14-10 deficit into a 23-16 lead, a surge that featured three straight 3-pointers from McQuaid, Goins and Gabe Brown.
Michigan State then put together a 10-0 run late in the half after Purdue pulled within three. Winston got it going with five straight points while McQuaid hit another three before Winston made a pair of free throws. After a quick Boilermakers bucket ended the run, Winston closed the scoring with two more free throws to give the Spartans a 39-26 lead at the break.
“I’m pleased with the win,” Izzo said. “It was a wild game. I’m a little disappointed how we were early. We’ve got to figure that out. We looked really tired.”
The Spartans, who have the top field-goal percentage defense in the Big Ten, held Purdue to 11-for-35 shooting in the first half, including just 4-for-16 from 3-point range. Edwards was limited to five points on 2-for-8 shooting as McQuaid hounded him for most of the half.
Michigan State extended the lead in the second half after a Winston three put Michigan State up, 50-36. But the Boilermakers started to chip away at the Spartans lead, scoring the next seven points. After a bucket from Ward, Edwards hit a pair of free throws then nailed a deep 3-pointer to pull Purdue within 52-48 with 11:26 to play.
Michigan State responded, scoring the next five, forcing a Purdue timeout with 9:55 left in the game. The Boilermakers had an opportunity to close the gap late in the half after Ward was called for a flagrant foul, but it was the Spartans that took over, scoring nine straight to take a 75-58 lead and effectively put the game away. The Spartans closed the game on an 11-1 run.
Trevion Williams had 13 points and 12 rebounds to lead Purdue (9-6, 2-2) as Ryan Cline added 12 points for the Boilermakers.
As for Edwards, he was chalking it up to a bad night.
“Some shots weren’t going our way,” Edwards said. “It’s not like I expected it to go like that. It comes with basketball and sometimes you have off nights. They’re a good team and they have a good defensive team with some good guys. I got the looks I normally get, the shots just didn’t fall.”