A potential NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed before Feb. 24, Purdue now looks extremely vulnerable after losing 6-foot-8 junior forward Robbie Hummel for the season to an anterior cruciate ligament tear in a victory at Minnesota.
While Purdue (24-4, 12-4 in the Big Ten) still has a good chance to at least share the regular-season conference championship, the bigger picture is that Michigan State exposed the Boilermakers for what they now are on Feb. 28, rebounding its way to an ugly 53-44 victory in Mackey Arena.
Without Hummel, who averages seven rebounds a game, Michigan State outrebounded Purdue 46-20 and limited the Boilermakers to 15 of 50 field-goal shooting (30 percent).
Opposing defenses likely will follow Michigan State's lead and overplay guard E'Twaun Moore and center JaJuan Johnson, daring anyone else to shoot. The strategy worked perfectly for Michigan State, which won by nine points in Mackey Arena despite turning the ball over 23 times against Purdue's physical man-to-man defense.
Purdue will host Indiana on Wednesday before closing regular-season action on Saturday at Penn State.
--With one first-half steal Sunday against Michigan State, senior guard Chris Kramer became Purdue's career leader in steals with 260, one more than former Boilermaker forward Brian Cardinal, who played for Gene Keady from 1996-97 through 1999-2000. Cardinal has played 10 seasons in the NBA.
--The Boilermakers' 44 points in the Sunday loss to Michigan State represent the program's lowest single-game output since Northwestern defeated Purdue 40-39 on Feb. 11, 2004. The Boilermakers are averaging 72.4 points this season.
ON THE SPOT: With Robbie Hummel gone for the season, senior guard Keaton Grant, who started the season's first 17 games, has returned to the starting lineup. That proved to be a problem in the Michigan State game when the Boilermakers got only three points from non-starters.
Coach Matt Painter used freshman forward DJ Byrd, redshirt freshman John Hart, freshman forward/center Patrick Bade and sophomore guard Ryne Smith for a total of 26 minutes in reserve roles, and they produced one point and one rebound, going 0 of 5 from the field.
If Purdue is to make any postseason noise, it's going to need production from its non-starters.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It is going to be a period of adjustment. We run our offense through those three guys, and with all three, one can afford to have an off night if the other two are scoring well. Now, things are different. Moore and Johnson are going to have to be good every night. Tonight, they weren't." -- Purdue coach Matt Painter talking about how Hummel's injury changes his team's dynamics.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Purdue enters the final week of the Big Ten regular season poised to gain at least a share of the regular-season title with Ohio State and or Michigan State.
The Boilermakers need to beat Indiana on March 3 in West Lafayette and then handle Penn State on March 6 in State College, Pa.
Ohio State (13-4) has one game remaining, at home March 2 vs. Illinois. Michigan State (12-4) has home games March 4 vs. Penn State and March 7 vs. Michigan.
It's very possible Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan State each will end up 14-4 in Big Ten action. Purdue won at Michigan State and at Ohio State but lost to each in West Lafayette.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual starters — C JaJuan Johnson, G Kelsey Barlow, G Keaton Grant, G Chris Kramer, G E'Twaun Moore. Key subs — G Lewis Jackson, F/C Patrick Bade, G John Hart, G Ryne Smith, G DJ Byrd.
Purdue 75, Illinois 65
Purdue 59, Minnesota 58
Michigan State 53, Purdue 44
vs. Indiana, Wednesday, March 3
at Penn State, Saturday, March 6
vs. TBA at Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, Friday, March 12
IN FOCUS: With Indiana struggling (9-19, 3-13 in the Big Ten), Wednesday's state rivalry between Purdue and the Hoosiers is lacking a bit right now and has the potential to be a one-sided affair in Mackey Arena as the Boilermakers seek at least a piece of the Big Ten regular-season crown.
Purdue defeated Indiana 78-75 on Feb. 4 in Bloomington and has won each of the past two meetings with the Hoosiers.
--With seven points in the Feb. 28 loss to Michigan State, senior guard Keaton Grant has 982 career points and needs 18 to become the 46th player in school history to score at least 1,000.
--With 11 points against Michigan State, Kramer reached double figures for the first time since scoring 15 in a Jan. 5 victory against Minnesota in Mackey Arena. Kramer went 13 games without reaching double figures before making 5 of 8 field goal attempts and his only free throw against Michigan State.
--It's not the way he wanted to achieve it, but Hummel will be the Big Ten's free throw percentage champion for 2009-2010 at 90.2 percent (110 of 122). He is out for the remainder of the season with a torn right ACL.
What Are the Chances? IU Readies for Purdue
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