East Lansing – While Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan chose not to attend Michigan State after verbally committing in April 2015, there were never any doubts for Miles Bridges.
Swanigan pulled back his verbal commitment several weeks later and ultimately signed with Purdue. He is having a breakout sophomore season for the No. 20 Boilermakers, who were at the Breslin Center on Tuesday night to take on Michigan State.
Swanigan decommitted, he said later, because Purdue had two 7-footers on the roster – A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas – allowing Swanigan to play power forward instead of center. At Michigan State he likely would have played some center.
However, Swanigan is excelling this year in the middle of Purdue's offense, ranking second in the Big Ten in scoring at 18.5 points a game and grabbing a nation’s-best 12.5 rebounds.
“Caleb is a great player,” Bridges said. “He’s a worker, can rebound the ball really well and that is what I’ve been struggling on; boxing people out and getting rebounds, so he’s really gonna test me.”
Bridges, who played in the same AAU organization as Swanigan, got to know him well traveling to tournaments and camps.
“We played for The Family, but he was in an older group,” Bridges said. “We got to know each other and when I saw that he committed to Michigan State, we became even closer after that. He’s just a cool guy.”
And even though Swanigan decided to back out of his Michigan State commitment, Bridges doesn’t hold any grudges against his friend.
“He made his decision and just like people wanted me to go to other schools and didn’t go so they’re mad at me,” Bridges said. “It’s his decision and he has to live with it. He’s done pretty good at his school, but I think he’s gonna go at us even harder just because he committed to us.
“But I love it here.”
Lupe Izzo will chair the Annual Food Drive held by the MSU Rebounders Club and the MSU Packaging School on Sunday at the Breslin Center before Michigan State’s 1 p.m. tip-off with Michigan.
Doors open at 11:30 a.m. and fans are asked to bring commercially packaged canned, boxed or cellophane wrapped items to the game. Cash donations will also be accepted with 100 percent going toward the MSU Student Food bank and the Greater Lansing Food Bank. The goal is to bring in $1 for each fan, which would raise $15,000 for these food banks with every $100 purchasing 222 pounds of food.
Donations can also be made on Friday at the MSU Rebounders Club luncheon at Eagle Eye Golf Course. Doors open at 10:45 a.m. with the program beginning at 11:50 a.m.
Even with its defensive struggles the last two games, Michigan State still ranks fourth in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage defense at 41.5 percent.
In the Spartans’ four Big Ten victories, they are holding opponents to 37.2 percent shooting. That number jumps to 47.3 percent in the three losses.
“We’ve got to stay focused for 40 minutes straight, rebound the ball and pick it up on defense,” Bridges said. “That’s what coach has been talking to us about. We do those things and we have a high possibility of winning.”
… Purdue entered Tuesday's contest as the second-highest scoring team in the Big Ten at 82.8 points a game. The Boilermakers have scored 75 points or more in 12 of their last 13 games. They also own a plus-9.3 rebounding margin and have outrebounded their opponents in all but two games this season.