Michigan State battled, but ultimately couldn’t get the job done against Trevion Williams and Purdue, dropping this one 75-65 in West Lafayette. Williams dominated with a game-high 28 points and added six rebounds and three assists.
The Spartans were down just three at halftime, and hung around for most of the second half, but once again fell apart down the stretch with a series of poor shots and turnovers.
Julius Marble had his best performance since the Duke game, scoring 10 points and adding a spark for MSU in the second half. He also played some tough defense down low against Williams.
Most of the rest of the Spartans were quiet. Aaron Henry had a solid game with 15 point, making six of his 12 attempts, and had five boards and four assists. Joey Hauser had 11 points on only five field goal attempts, but had six turnovers, including three in the final minutes of the game.
There wasn’t one thing you can point to for the reason MSU lost this game, but as has been the case most of the year, it was a collection of not doing enough things well that doomed them. Inexplicable turnovers at bad times, defensive lapses, poor shot selection, odd lineups and substitutions, all of them played a role.
Maybe the biggest thing though, is that Purdue had the best player on the floor, and it wasn’t even close. Williams can make up for a lot of other issues, and he did so tonight with Purdue shooting just 25 percent from three-point range.
The Spartans don’t have anyone in that class that can cover up other deficiencies, not this year at least.
What it has come down to for MSU is that the Spartans basically need to play as close to mistake free as they can in order to win, because their margin for error is so low. That just has not come close to happening enough for the Spartans in conference play, and it’s why they are on their way to missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997.
And make no mistake about it, that is where this is headed barring a miracle turn of events over the next few weeks.
There are any number of reasons why that is the case, but this number from tonight highlights part of the problem: Aaron Henry had 15 points, the other four MSU starters combined for 16 points.
Up next for MSU is the second leg of this Indiana road trip, a Saturday stop in Bloomington to face the Hoosiers. Kenpom has Michigan State as a seven-point underdog after tonight’s performance.
It has been a rough go this year, but this final stretch may be the worst of it.