Michigan State won this game by being more physical, pounding Purdue in the paint and grabbing 46 rebounds to the Boilermakers 20.
The win snapped a 10-game win streak for the Boilermakers and pulled the Spartans into a first-place tie with Purdue and Ohio State.
"I thought it was one of the ugliest games I've ever watched," said MSU head coach Tom Izzo. "I just couldn't believe how we turned it over, but it shows how important that defense is, because our defense was phenomenal."
While it wasn't pretty the Spartans showed guts down the stretch, running clock and playing solid defense. MSU held Purdue's Etwan Moore to 3-of-14 shooting from the field.
Draymond Green's putback with 1:24 game MSU a six point lead. Kalin Lucas' alley-oop pass to Raymar Morgan resulted in a clinching basket and free throw.
Morgan played a solid game, despite being bothered by fouls (3) and turnovers (4) leading all scorers with 16 points, 11 rebounds.
The Spartans got an unexpected lift from freshman starter Derrick Nix who scored eight points, grabbed four rebounds and forced Purdue center JuJuan Johnson into a 4-of-14 shooting performance.
Michigan State (22-7, 12-4 conference) now comes back home with a chance to solidify a share of the conference title. They face last place Penn State and also-ran Michigan to finish the season before heading to the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.