EAST LANSING — If the opening week of Big Ten basketball is any sign of what is to come, then we are in for one special season.
The No. 18 Michigan State Spartans (11-3, 0-1) are coming off a 76-63 loss against No. 9 Minnesota, and the Boilermakers (7-6, 1-0) upset No. 11 Illinois at home on Wednesday.
If Purdue plans on spoiling Michigan State’s Big Ten home opener they’re going to have to come with a similar intensity to which they played Illinois with.
The Spartans are 9-0 at home this season and haven’t lost a Big Ten home opener in 10 years. Also, as winter break comes to a close, the Izzone should be packed with students who are making their way back to East Lansing.
Michigan State is lead by junior point guard Keith Appling who possibly is coming off of his best complete game of the season against Minnesota. Appling — who leads the Spartans with 14.9 ppg — scored 15 points and added five assists and six steals in the loss against the Golden Gophers. The junior showed off an array of offensive moves and continued to prove why he is one of the best perimeter defenders in the Big Ten.
However, Purdue has a solid junior guard in Terone Johnson who is coming off of the best game of his career. Johnson scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the upset over Illinois. The guard from Indianapolis is the leading scorer on the Boilermaker averaging 13.6 per game, which makes him the only Purdue player averaging double figures.
Michigan State stud freshman Gary Harris has ties to Purdue in more ways than one. Harris and sophomore Branden Dawson — both from Indiana — were both HEAVILY recruited by Purdue head coach Matt Painter and his coaching staff, but on a more personal level, Harris’ mother, Joy Harris, played ball at Purdue for four years.
As a freshman, Dawson had a very efficient game in his very first meeting against Purdue as he shot 6-of-7 from the field for 14 points, and it will be interesting to see if Harris has a strong performance against the Boilermakers in his first meeting.