The Wheels on the Bus Take Purdue Down and Down - MSU 83, Purdue 58

I’m not going to get much into the craziness going on with some of the rivalries in this game and crowd chants but I will say that, despite my friendly joking about Rick Mount, I respect Robbie Hummel and this was one of the few times I actually felt bad for an opposing player – not in an insulting, pitying sort of way, no – but watching Hummel exit East Lansing for the last time in a Purdue @ MSU game in what was for him and his team an absolute debacle was bittersweet. Good luck, Robbie, and see you in West Lafayette.

But let’s talk about the sweetness! For the second time this year, Michigan State really took apart a conference opponent at the Breslin. The final was 83-58 (statsheet boxscore here) and I would not have guessed this morning that the margin would exceed the previous two games. I’m going to cheat a little bit and rely on my own preview to do some analysis.

Point 1:
Robbie Hummel vs. Draymond Green
Green was awesome and pulled one basketball’s great tricks: to be effective and make plays for your team when only taking a limited amount of shots (credit Keith Appling with the same). On top of his 8 pts, he had 12 rebounds and 7 assists, leading the team in both. Hummel had a horrible night and his 0-11 performance from the field was only supplemented by 2 successful free throws. This one-on-one contest was a landslide.

Point 2:
Control the game by dominating in the post.
Derrick Nix did his best jumbo Green impression and reminded everyone who had forgotten what a valuable asset he is moving the ball out of the post. Statesheet only counts two assists but they were both excellent plays that required Nix to think fast and make the right pass accurately. He was also alert when receiving passes and took advantage of his junior year quickness to get the ball up without hesitation. After struggling with the offensive motion of both Northwestern and Purdue, Adreian Payne came back around for a better showing and didn't let defensive lapses keep him out of the game. The combined numbers for Aderrian Nipaynx were 21 pts (8 of 12), 7 rebs, 2 asts, and 1 block in 35 minutes. Not bad for the two-headed center beast. Purdue played small much of the game but the time spent for the Purdue post players Jacob Lawson, Travis Carroll, and Sandi Marcius was not memorable. Purdue never consistently addressed their shooting woes by going inside and those three players combined for only 3 shot attempts in 41 minutes. Again, landslide.

Point 3:
Get Dawson going.

I anticipated that the history between Izzo and Painter over recruiting Dawson might be an issue tonight and I guess I nailed that one. After a quiet first half, Dawson’s explosive performance helped turn a big win into a laugher. His 14 were a basket behind Branden's season high. I’m excited about the possibility of Trice and Dawson developing chemistry for more of those easy alley-oops. On top of the offensive glassman and dunker we know him to be, fans also caught hints of where Dawson can go. He hit his free throws, popped a beautiful jumpshot, and anticipated a pass for a breakaway steal. If all that becomes routine, Dawson turns into a monster. The trip to play at Purdue should be very interesting.

Less systematic analysis after the jump...

There were a few things to be less excited about. Rebounding in the first half was just mind-bogglingly awful. I thought Payne was particularly suspect, lacking any feel for where the ball was headed or the intuition to get to it. At one point, Purdue grabbed FOUR STRAIGHT offensive rebounds as Michigan State players hopped around futilely. Some of that is bad luck and bounces but certainly not all of it. There were plenty of other plays early on when MSU was outworked for rebounds or failed to be properly organized on a miss. The Four Factors has something to say on this as well:

Purdue won the offensive rebounding percentage going away by about 13 percentage pts. They normally grab around 33% but notched that up to 40% against an MSU team who typically gets over 72% of their defensive rebound opportunities. Tonight, MSU only corralled 60%. The number of Purdue misses should have helped MSU but it didn’t.

The dominance of the second half and the scoring run of the late first masked how bad MSU was in the first 15 minutes. This is food for debate but I’m in the camp who believes Purdue was affected by their travel problems. Before the game got out of control, Purdue was finding some solid looks. The MSU defense was just okay early but the Boilermakers could not hit anything. The column on the far left tells much of the story. Rough roads and little sleep probably worked in concert with the Spartan defense to make that happen.

A few other brief player notes:
Russell Byrd – I’m rooting for this guy. Even if it’s as a spot duty role player, I want to see Byrd have a productive career at MSU. He’s still getting most of his minutes at forward and my guess is that he has to work to get up to speed to be a consistent wing presence. If you watch Russell closely when he’s in as I tend to do, you’ll notice that he’s a better than expected rebounder and normally moves with commendable hustle. Players are made in the summer and I’d like to see Byrd 2.0 next year.

Austin Thornton – "The boy nobody wanted just won the Super Bowl." I’m rather surprised how much traction AT passing a shot up against UM has received. To me, that’s about reason No. 17 why MSU walked away defeated. In general, the days of piling on the wing from Sand Lake are over. Thornton has been in double-digits or close in five of his last eight games. He continues to be a reliable presence to be in the right place at the right time as the freshmen learn the ropes.

That’s what I have for now. Next up is another winnable home game against Minnesota on Wednesday. Minnesota really struggled at the onset of Big Ten play losing their first four. Since then, they proved a dangerous road team by beating Indiana in Bloomington. After that, it's into the dark, threatening confines of Assembly Hall. Until then, enjoy and GO GREEN!

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