Michigan State stuns No. 4 Purdue on Walker's 3-point winner

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — It sure felt like we had seen this movie before.

Michigan State, facing a top-five Purdue team at home, making a 3-pointer in the final seconds that blew the roof off Breslin Center, giving the Spartans a massive win.

When Miles Bridges did it in 2018, Michigan State was also a top-five team and it was the Spartans’ eighth straight victory in a run of 13.

Michigan State's Julius Marbles and Max Christie celebrate with Tyson Walker, center, after Walker made a 3-point basket, breaking a 65-65 tie with Purdue, leaving only 1.1 seconds left in the second half. Michigan State went onto win 68-65.

On Saturday afternoon, Michigan State entered the game in a far different place, having lost three in a row and five of the last six, a season that once was filled with promise starting to slip away in the final weeks of the regular season.

So, when Tyson Walker rose up and hit a deep 3-pointer over Purdue big man Trevion Williams with 1.4 seconds left to propel Michigan State to a 68-65 victory over the fourth-ranked Boilermakers — the exact score MSU won by when Bridges delivered his winner — you can imagine the wave of emotion that exploded throughout the building.

“We needed to win a game,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said, “and we needed to win a game the way we won the game.”

BOX SCORE: Michigan State 68, Purdue 65

Not so much winning it essentially at the buzzer but winning it with the grit and toughness that had been missing too often over the past month as the Spartans (19-8, 10-7 Big Ten) slowly fell out of the conference championship race.

Michigan State's Gabe Brown lets out a yell as the Spartans lead Purdue in the first half.

From Gabe Brown’s three 3-pointers to Julius Marble’s toughness defending Purdue’s two big men — Williams and 7-foot-4 Zach Edey — to Mady Sissoko’s inspiring four-minute first-half shift, Michigan State fought from start to finish.

And it was that fight that allowed Walker to step in and hit the winner.

“That’s a move I’ve been doing since I was a freshman in high school,” Walker said. “Once I let it go, I knew it was good.”

The shot went in, the building was alive with energy and the Spartans proved they’re not dead yet.

With three games left and the final week of the regular season here, Michigan State likely won’t win the Big Ten title, but it’s heading down the stretch feeling like it might have not just ended a losing streak but blown it to pieces.

Michigan State's Tyson Walker puts up the game winning shot, to break the 65-65 tie, leaving only 1.1 seconds left in the game.

“We needed a win,” said Brown, who raced around the court after the buzzer sounded. “I got tired of losing. We've been in close games and we haven't been able to finish. I just wanted to go out and get a big win.”

Added Walker, “I don't think we were desperate, we just kind of, in a way, felt disrespected. It just felt like everybody was giving up on us. So we went and wanted to prove a point.”

Point taken with what was arguably the biggest win of the season for the Spartans as they re-establish their footing heading into a tough finish to the season with back-to-back road games next week at Michigan and Ohio State before they host Maryland next Sunday.

“Anytime you play Purdue, you earn your win,” Izzo said. “I have great respect for Matt (Painter) and his program, and I think they are still the best team in the league, but today we earned our win. It wasn't lucky, I thought we earned it from the get-go, the start to the finish.

“We earned the win and I don't apologize for that.”

In a season that has had fewer ups than downs recently, no one was looking for an apology. Instead, the Spartans were looking to simply play better. They did that, turning it over just 10 times and scoring 19 points in transition.

Brown led the way with 13 points, going 3-for-5 from 3-point range to break out of a shooting slump, while Marble added 12 points. A.J. Hoggard and Max Christie each scored 11 for the Spartans.

More: MSU's Christie, Walker team up to shake shooting slumps

Zach Edey was nearly unstoppable for Purdue (24-5, 13-5), scoring a game-high 25 as the Boilermakers were unable to overcome 17 turnovers. Jaden Ivey added 16 points for the Boilermakers while Trevion Williams had 11.

“At halftime, we thought we were in a good position, I thought they played pretty well,” Painter said. “We had seven turnovers at the half and really talked with the team about having a total of 10 for the game, then we had four turnovers before the first media timeout (of the second half). … Our inability to stay consistent and not turn the basketball over has really hurt us, especially on the road.

“I liked our odds in this game, but we didn't and you’ve got to give Michigan State credit for their defense.”

Slow starts have plagued the Spartans in recent weeks, but that surely wasn’t the case on Saturday as Michigan State jumped out to a quick lead on a 3-pointer from Brown and a drive and layup in transition from Christie. The Boilermakers responded, though, and took an 8-7 lead before another 3-pointer from Brown sparked a surge that put the Spartans ahead, 15-11, after a 3-pointer from Walker.

Purdue answered with an 8-0 run, getting five straight points from Edey to take a 19-18 lead.

It was Michigan State’s turn to respond with a 10-2 surge that gave the Spartans a 28-21 lead with 5:24 to play in the opening half. After Purdue pulled withing 28-26, Michigan State fought back and pushed its advantage to 35-28 with 2:04 left in the half.

That’s when the Boilermakers grabbed momentum heading into halftime, getting a lob to Edey and three free throws from Eric Hunter as Michigan State missed its last two shots and the front end of a one-and-one free throw by Hoggard to hold a 35-33 lead headed to the locker room.

Michigan State started fast in the second half, as well, forcing an early Purdue timeout after two straight layups in transition from Hoggard put the Spartans up, 41-35. Purdue kept chipping away, and after a bucket from Williams, the Michigan State lead was down to 46-44 as the two Boilermakers big men were effective.

“It was tough,” Marble said of guarding Edey. “The whole game was pretty much a battle. I knew he was going to get some shots because he's just so much taller than me, but my goal was to make it harder for him to get those shots. I kind of felt like I did that.”

The Spartans responded to the Purdue surge by scoring the next nine points with a 3-pointer from Brown and three straight buckets from Marble to take a 55-44 lead with 10:38 left in the game.

The Boilermakers refused to go away, however, chipping away at the Michigan State lead and pulling within 59-53 on an Edey bucket in the paint with 7:22 to play. A free throw and another score from the lane by Edey made it 59-56 as Michigan State hit a cold stretch, making 1 of 7 shots with 3-pointers from Christie and Malik Hall going halfway down before popping out.

A lob to Marcus Bingham pushed MSU’s lead to 61-56, but Purdue scored the next four to pull within one with two minutes to play. Purdue later tied it at 63 on a free throw from Ivey before Marble hit two free throws with 51.2 seconds left.

Williams tied it by putting back his own miss with 31.3 seconds to play before Walker hit the winner.

“He’s been shooting well but we wanted the ball in his hands because we thought he could get a shot,” Izzo said. “I thought they might switch out so we had Joey (Hauser) popping and we had Malik rolling up. It was three options on the play. When he came off, he was open enough and give him credit, he knocked it down.”


Twitter: @mattcharboneau