Missed dunks come back to slam Spartans
West Lafayette, Ind. — As good as Michigan State has been shooting the ball the last couple weeks, an off night probably doesn’t come as a big surprise.
But when it comes in a one-point overtime loss, it can be especially frustrating.
That was exactly the case on Tuesday as No. 8 Michigan State came storming back from an 18-point deficit, only to fall to No. 18 Purdue, 82-81, at Mackey Arena.
“We did not execute very well,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “We had foul trouble, we had strange lineups in there, and we missed shots. (Bryn) Forbes had some shots, and we missed them, but when you miss three dunks — three dunks — and you lose by a point, it’s hard to stomach.”
Those dunks that didn’t go were crucial, almost as crucial as the six misses from 3-point range from Forbes. Eron Harris missed two dunks in the first half, but it was Denzel Valentine’s early in overtime with the game tied at 72 that was a killer.
“I had a layup blocked in the first half and I tried to go up strong,” Valentine said. “I just missed it.”
Forbes was coming off one of the best games of his career, going 8-for-10 from 3-point range in the win over Michigan on Saturday. But he was just 1-for-7 on Tuesday, his only 3-pointer coming late in the second half.
Purdue had its best defender — Rapheal Davis — on Forbes, and he made it tough for the Michigan State senior to get good looks.
“We wanted Davis on Forbes as much as possible,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We wanted to stop Forbes and maybe Valentine was going to get 50 points. Man, he’s gotten better. I didn’t want him to be part of this game, but Valentine almost had a triple-double, so that was a hell of theory.”
Forbes finished 3-for-11 from the field while Harris was 1-for-8. The result was Valentine playing 42 minutes and being forced to do everything, making fatigue an issue late in the game.
“We’re playing him into the ground,” Izzo said of Valentine. “We just didn’t have enough other guys. When Bryn and Eron are playing like they were … we tried to get Denzel a couple of rests and we got him a couple. He probably played a lot of minutes, but what did he play, 42 minutes? So we got him three minutes of rest in the regular part.”
Izzo said he didn’t get a good look at the final foul called on Valentine that sent Davis to the free throw line to score the winning point.
A.J. Hammons was setting a screen and appeared to stick his leg out, but Valentine got called for the foul.
“Yeah, yeah, I did (think it was a foul),” Izzo said. “Somebody said it was close to an illegal pick. I don’t know if that … there’s another case, we were supposed to go under (the screen). We knew it was coming and we just didn’t do a good job. But when you knock a guy when he’s, I mean, I think that was Davis that had the ball, right? I mean, he’s a tank. He’s not flopping. He’s a tough son of a gun. So yeah, I think that was a foul.”
Freshmen Caleb Swanigan and Deyonta Davis, two AAU teammates, each had their moments. Swanigan and Davis both scored eight points, though Davis fouled out.
The two might have been college teammates, but Swanigan decommitted from MSU and ended up at Purdue. Izzo reiterated after the game there were no hard feelings.
“Biggie’s a helluva player and a good kid,” Izzo said of Swanigan. “As I said, I’ve got no issues with that whole deal, whether you believe that or not. You can look me in the eye. I don’t, I don’t. It was different, but it wasn’t anything to do with Matt. It was just kids change their minds and that’s the way it is. I said 'hello' to him before the game, talked to him after the game. …
"And Biggie’s a good player. And DD’s a good player. And he’s having success here and we’re having success there, it’s a good deal. It’s a good deal both ways.