Spartans Fight Off Purdue 70-58

MSU held off a late charge by Purdue to win by a misleading double digit victory score of 70-58. Goran Suton had a career high of 12 points for MSU to spark the Spartans.

INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan State was able to escape from the Purdue Boilermakers in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday. The Spartans won by a score of 70-58 and were led by leading scorer Maurice Ager with 20 points.

Michigan State kept a steady lead for the majority of the game. In the first half it was a back and fourth battle between the two teams that featured nine lead changes. Goran Suton hit two consecutive baskets in the midst of a 9-2 run by Michigan State to allow the Spartans to jump out to the first lead.

After the game Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said, "We found a way to win, but we've got to get a lot better in the next 25 hours or so."

The freshman, Suton, scored a career-high 12 points for the injury plagued Spartans. Michigan State has been starting Suton in place of the injured Matt Trannon who made his first appearance today in five games. Michigan State also lost power forward Marquise Gray to a broken foot; all three players have been sharing the duty at power forward for the Spartans.

The sixth-seeded Spartans will move on to the quarterfinals to play #9 Illinois. Michigan State has lost both times against the Illini this season and will look to redeem themselves tomorrow. The eleventh-seeded Purdue (9-19) struggled this season and failed to win any games on the road this year.

Going into halftime the Spartans led 31-26. Neither team was able to get any perimeter offense started in the game. Michigan State was just 3-8 from behind the arc and Purdue didn't bode any better shooting 2-11 from three-point range in the game.

Michigan State didn't get the usual production on the offensive end out of center Paul Davis and forward Shannon Brown. Davis only managed 11 points to go along with seven rebounds and Brown had 11 points and was just 3-10 from the field. Michigan State did dodge another bullet and nearly suffered an injury to starting center Paul Davis. Davis had to leave the game after getting hit in the eye, he returned but did have to receive stitches.

In the second half it was all Michigan State, they reached their biggest lead of 15 points mid-way through the half and went up by a score of 49-34. The Boilermakers managed to cut the Spartans' lead to just six points in the closing minutes of the game, but key rebounds by Goran Suton allowed the Spartans to ice the game at the line.

Gary Ware was the leading scorer for the Boilermakers with 20 points and shot 8-12 from the field. Michael Keefer also added 16 points and seven rebounds. The Boilermakers just shot the ball over 38 percent from the field.

Following the game Purdue head coach Matt Painter said, "We've struggled shooting the ball the past four or five games. It's too bad because these guys have worked hard to get better."

The Spartans know that with every game left in the season they have to get better and coach Izzo is implying that mentality to his team.

"I can't say I was extremely ecstatic about our play, and Purdue deserves some of the credit for that," Izzo said.

Michigan State will look to the post-season with a clean slate and a winning mentality. After the game Shannon Brown told the media,

"Spartan basketball is playing with a lot of intensity, a lot of grit. We haven't played with it as much as we'd like to. But it's a new season."

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