Michigan St.-Purdue Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 18, 2012
Michigan State's recent hot stretch began with a blowout victory over Purdue nearly a month ago. Not only are the seventh-ranked Spartans playing arguably their best basketball of the season, they'll be facing a short-handed Boilermakers team in the rematch. Michigan State seeks its seventh win in eight games Sunday afternoon when it visits Purdue, which will be without Kelsey Barlow and D.J. Byrd after they were involved in an off-court incident. The Spartans (21-5, 10-3 Big Ten) dominated the Boilermakers 83-58 in East Lansing on Jan. 21, shooting 60.0 percent while holding Purdue to a 29.0 mark from the field. That began a run of six victories in seven games, which includes a 69-55 win over No. 15 Wisconsin on Thursday. Draymond Green had 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. The senior is averaging 15.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists, putting him on pace to be the first player from a BCS conference to hit those marks since Wake Forest's Tim Duncan in 1996-97. "That win says a lot," Green said. "Wisconsin is not an easy team to play against." Michigan State, which has won four straight, has six victories over ranked opponents. No one has more. Coach Tom Izzo is impressed with his team's current run, though Thursday's game was the first of five in 13 days for the Spartans. "There are a lot of concerns,'' Izzo said. "We've got four more quick turnarounds.'' Izzo's concerns seem minor compared to those of Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose program has some off-the-court issues. Painter dismissed Barlow from the team and suspended Byrd for Sunday's matchup after they were involved in an altercation at a campus-area bar early Friday morning. Barlow had started 22 games and averaged 8.3 points, while Byrd averaged 16.8 points over his last five games. "This is an unfortunate situation, but we will move forward as a program,'' Painter said. "We expect our student-athletes to live up to a high standard, and when their actions become detrimental to the program, there are consequences.'' Byrd scored 13 in Wednesday's 67-62 win at Illinois. Robbie Hummel scored a team-high 19 and Terone Johnson added 12 off the bench. Purdue (17-9, 7-6) has hopes of qualifying for the NCAA tournament, but it badly needs a signature victory after losing each of its first six contests versus ranked opponents. That record is in large part due to Robbie Hummel's struggles. The team's leading scorer is shooting 29.5 percent against Top 25 teams and missed all 11 field-goal attempts - hitting only a pair of free throws - in the first meeting with the Spartans. "The last couple games we've talked about how we have to separate ourselves, and getting a win against (Michigan State) would definitely separate us," Johnson said. By getting 18 of its many misses the first time, Purdue held a 34-33 rebounding edge over the Spartans, whose plus-10.0 rebounding differential is among the nation's best. The Boilermakers, who have won four of the last five matchups at Mackey Arena, also hope to slow Green. The three-year Spartans captain had eight points, 12 boards and seven assists in the last contest. "He's one of the best players - if not the best player - in the conference and we're going to do everything we can to stop him and contain him," Purdue guard Ryne Smith said. Green has been held to single digits in six of his eight games versus the Boilermakers.
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