Michigan State (11-3, 3-1 Big Ten) struggled early in the game before holding the Boilermakers without a field goal an 8:30 stretch late in the first half. That tight defense was accompanied by an 18-4 offensive run of their own run. That combo gave the Spartans a 36-27 halftime advantage.
Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo had nothing but praise for Brown and Ager after the game:
"Thank god that Shannon Brown played probably his best game as a Spartan. And thank god Maurice Ager had a phenomenal second half. . . . There is no question, Shannon is starting to get better and better as he moves better with the ball. What I like that he did tonight was his rebounding. He just went out and got the ball tonight; he went out and got them on the rim. He ran the lanes very well. He continually pushed the ball, putting it in better positions.
"I thought Mo did a great job of bouncing back the second half. He was sicker than a dog before the game. I don't know if it was nervous sickness or the other. Purdue battled back. I thought we could put them away in the second half, but they just battled back and we made some mistakes."
Purdue would rally in the second half, going on a 15-3 run to pull to 43-42 with 9:16 left before Ager unleashed his scoring barrage.
Carl Landry scored a career-high 31 points for Purdue (4-11, 0-5), while David Teague chipped in with 13 points. Landry had his way with the Spartan interior defense all night, going 11-of-12 from the field and 8-of-12 from the free-throw line. Landry also led Purdue in rebounds with 9.
"I thought at times our defense was great, we just couldn't guard the post with a fish net," Izzo said. "Either we are not very good in there or we saw the new MVP of the league tonight. Carl Landry played awfully well. They did a nice job of giving him the ball. It was a very physical game." The last time the Spartans allowed an individual opponent to score 30 or more points was in 2001, when MSU defeated Minnesota, 94-83. The Golden Gophers' Terrance Simmons had 34 in that contest.
After the loss, Purdue now stands at 0-5 in the Big Ten. It is the first time they have started that poorly in the conference since the 1962-63 season.
The Spartans travel to Minneapolis this weekend for a Saturday afternoon tip-off (4:30 p.m.) against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.