It was too little too late for No. 9 Michigan State on Tuesday at Purdue.
As the Spartans nearly erased an 18-point deficit to the first place Boilermakers, a couple of centimeters made the difference from the Spartans taking their first lead of the game and Purdue pulling away.
MSU got the ball off a rebound down 51-50 with just under three minutes left. It was a golden opportunity to take their first lead of the game and complete an incredible comeback from the earlier Boilermaker dominance.
But as Raymar Morgan took the pass and planted his pivot foot just outside the three-point line, he was called for his third traveling call of the game, making it the biggest turnover of the 17 that MSU had in the game.
Naturally after missing a chance to hand Purdue a punch in the mouth, sophomore Chris Kramer came back down the court and sank a jumper to put Purdue up 53-50.
After another empty MSU possession, freshman Robbie Hummel put the nail in the coffin, sinking a three-pointer with 1:42 left to give Purdue a 56-50 lead.
If that wasn't enough exclamation in putting the game away, Hummel answered a quick Kalin Lucas layup with a jumper with :44 seconds remaining.
It was a free-throw game from there as Purdue knocked off their second straight top-ten opponent, 60-54.
Despite the loss, the Spartans put on a great second half comeback, after being down by 16 at half. They were on the verge of yet another blowout loss at Purdue, after being embarrassed there last year 62-38.
But MSU showed life and never gave up, really getting their inside game going. MSU took only five three-point shots, two of which came in desperation in the closing minutes.
Goran Suton and Drew Naymick had some great baskets and plays in the game, with Naymick diving out of bounds to keep a loose ball alive, with Lucas taking it the rest of the way for the layup.
Lucas scored 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. He has been the Spartans' top scorer in the last few games as Morgan has struggled to score and Neitzel struggled at Purdue.
Both Morgan and Neitzel were held scoreless in the first half but both notched their first baskets to open the second half and spark the MSU comeback.
But in the end it was a turnover that killed the Spartans, one of 17 on the night. But give the Spartans credit, after turning the ball over eight times in the first ten minutes of the game, they recovered well and held on to the ball.
The loss to the first-place Boilermakers hurts the Spartans in a big way, now putting them two games out of first place, making their trip to Indiana on Saturday a must win if they want to have any chance of a Big Ten title.
The loss to Purdue marks the eighth road loss in the last ten games in the Big Ten for MSU.
Spartans Fall Hard At Purdue
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