While these two young men may not average double-doubles on a consistent basis, they are key members of the Boilermakers. Both Byrd and Barlow combined for 16.3 ppg and Barlow is considered to be a good defender as well.
It will be interesting to see if the Spartans expose this weakness.
Coming in to this game the Spartans still cannot afford to lose focus. Offensively they may have to deal with some zone and man-to-man defense from Painter's group.
As usual the Spartans will definitely have to get Draymond Green involved early. Spartan Digest believes Purdue doesn't have anyone who is able to check Green.
Keith Appling and Derrick Nix are also huge keys going into this game. Appling has to minimize his turnovers and also stay out of foul trouble while Nix will be the biggest man on the court. Most players in the Big Ten can't check him, and he needs to take his time, use his size and good footwork to take over the post. Adreian Payne is someone who needs to play more consistent as well; we never know which player will show up.
Defensively MSU needs to come ready to run off screens and get a hand up. Purdue generally likes to spread it out and produce good ball movement to get a score. However, Purdue also likes to penetrate and kick.
The Spartans defense will have to do a good job of not allowing the ball to get to the middle and not allowing Lewis Jackson to get penetration. They'll also need to have active hands, Purdue doesn't have many good ball handlers other than Jackson, and MSU should be able to get a couple of easy steals.
The Spartans must win the battle of the boards, Purdue may not be big and athletic but they are great hustle players who will go for every rebound and loose ball. Lastly they must try to slow down Robbie Hummel; he is their leader in every way.
Overall the Spartans should definitely win this game but as always an upset can happen as Purdue is out to prove they can win against a ranked team.
The Spartans have lost three of their last four road games and must head into this tough environment fully focused.
MSU needs to take charge and not allow the Boilermakers a chance to come back. If it is a close game they need to be able to finish strong.
I honestly believe this game comes down to two key players in Green and Hummel. Both are seniors, leaders, leading scorers and have the will to help their team win.