In a battle of top five teams, Michigan State was able to pull out a victory, thanks to a game winning three pointer from Miles Bridges. The Boilermakers gave the Spartans all they could handle, but MSU played smart and made some big shots down the stretch. MSU is now in second place in the Big Ten and needs to win out and an Ohio State loss to move into a three way tie for first.
Matt McQuaid, Gavin Schilling and Kenny Goins were huge
This game was a war throughout, but the Spartans likely wouldn’t have won this game without the play of these three guys. The trio combined for 22 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and did a variety of little things that don’t show up in the box score. Schilling and Goins played big minutes due to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Nick Ward getting into foul trouble. Schilling gave everything he had guarding Purdue big man Isaac Haas and Goins frustrated Vince Edwards all night. McQuaid’s impact was felt offensively, as his three 3-pointers came in crucial moments. In a game where three of the five Spartan starters weren’t at their best, the bench stepped up and led the Spartans to a top five win.
When MSU takes care of the ball, they are nearly impossible to beat
For the first time in a while, MSU looked like a national championship caliber team. Over the past month or so, the Spartans have just skated by inferior teams. However, they made a statement Saturday night against Purdue. MSU hasn’t been great at taking care of the ball this year, but against Purdue, the Spartans turned the ball over just six times, which was pivotal. Jackson Jr., Josh Langford, and Ward combined for just 14 points on 31.5 percent shooting from the field, and if the Spartans would have hit their season average for turnovers (14), they wouldn’t have won this game. However, the fact that those three struggled and MSU was still able to pull out a win says a lot about this team. Turnovers have allowed inferior teams hang in with MSU, but we got a glimpse of just how good MSU can be when they take care of the ball. It’s a small sample size, but if the Spartans can continue to limit turnovers, they will be very tough to beat come tournament time.
Miles Bridges is peaking at the right time for MSU
Since the Spartans lost the Ohio State, Miles Bridges has taken his game to another level. In the 10 games since that loss, Bridges is averaging 19.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists, while shooting 53.5 percent from the field. His impressive 10 game stretch was capped by the game winning 3-pointer he hit against Purdue Saturday night. Earlier in the year, there was a lot of talk about Bridges not being aggressive enough. However, he’s been much more aggressive the past few weeks, looking for his shot a lot more. Sure, he’s still settling for some contested jumpers, but he’s making more of them and they’re within the flow of the offense. Before, he was just jacking up three’s from the corner with 25 seconds left on the shot clock. Now, he’s getting to the basket more, and when he does shoot a jump shot, the clock is running down or it’s a rhythm jumper. He is the unquestioned star of the Spartans, and his play over the last month has been huge.