Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/18/14

Branden Dawson looked like he was growing up right in front of our eyes.  He threw down a few thunderous dunks, blocked two shots, and even confidently hit a long jumper.  He finished 6-7 from the field and played his best stretch of basketball in a while during the second half.  An incident late in the game reminded us that he is still a freshman, as it appeared that he and Purdue coach Matt Painter started jawing at each other.

When Painter was asked about the exchange, he said this:  “He had an exchange.  My advice would be to only coach one team.  My players are not going to talk to opposing coaches.  I’m not going to let a 19 year-old talk to me like that and rub it in my face.”

In the locker room, Dawson said that he was clapping and shouted “Let’s go” after MSU forced a turnover.  He said it was not directed towards Coach Painter.  Who knows where the truth lies, but obviously talking to an opposing coach is a no-no.  On the basketball front, Dawson looked fantastic and appeared to get a confidence boost from his big second half.

After two road losses, The Spartans were very happy to return to the Breslin Center.  Other than allowing 18 offensive rebounds, MSU played an outstanding game.  They played hard and executed on both ends of the floor.  The Spartans shot a lethal 60% from the field, while holding Purdue to 29%.  The Boilermakers missed some decent looks, but MSU played a good defensive game.

MSU also had incredibly balanced scoring.  They had seven players who scored more than eight points, and had a nice flow to their offense all night.  It was a reassuring win after two tough losses; the young guys got a lot of second half minutes, and will hopefully be able to use this as a confidence boost.

  • Robbie Hummel was 0-11 from the field.  He had some decent looks, but Draymond Green did a good job chasing him around all night.  Purdue was an atrocious 3-20 from three-point range.  Hummel is by far the team’s best scorer, and without an inside scoring presence the Boilermakers rely heavily on the three-ball.  When they can’t knock down triples, they are not a good offensive team.
  • Russell Byrd has been buried on the bench recently.  Tom Izzo got him into this game early, and Russ sprained his ankle.  It was a stroke of bad luck, but the injury was not serious and he returned in the second half.
  • Travis Trice played 16 minutes and dished out four assists.  He made a couple great alley-oop passes, including one to Dawson from near half court.  He also dropped a dime to Derrick Nix over Purdue’s defense in transition.  Trice has been struggling recently, but played well tonight.  Let’s see if that continues Tuesday against Minnesota.
  • Brandon Wood only shot the ball four times.  It is hard to complain about the Spartan’s offense after a game like that, but Wood is capable of being an excellent scorer when he is confident and aggressive.  I’d like to see him look for his shot more.
  • Brandan Kearney is going to be a really nice player for MSU down the road.  His long arms and mobility make him a tough perimeter defender, and his jump shot looks nice.  He is going to be a terrific role player, maybe as early as next season.
  • Big Nix was 5-7 from the field and continues to impress with his post game.

MSU is feeling a lot better about themselves than they were earlier this week.  Let’s see if the confidence built from this blowout carries on to next week when a resilient Minnesota team comes to East Lansing.

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