Caleb Swanigan, No. 20 Purdue down Michigan State, 84-73
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(AP) Caleb Swanigan was booed when he touched the ball and simply responded with a dominating performance.
Swanigan had 25 points and 17 rebounds, helping No. 20 Purdue pull away to beat Michigan State 84-73 on Tuesday night.
The sophomore standout was unpopular among the Spartans’ fans because he committed to play for Tom Izzo before changing his mind and deciding to be a Boilermaker.
“I was prepped for it,” Swanigan said.
And, coach Matt Painter was happy with how he handled it.
“He showed a lot of poise,” Painter said. “He showed a lot of maturity.”
The Boilermakers (17-4, 6-2 Big Ten) have won three straight, helping them have their best eight-game record in the conference since 2010-11.
The Spartans (12-9, 4-4) have lost three straight and four of five, forcing them to turn it around soon to improve their chances of playing in a 20th straight NCAA Tournament.
Michigan State’s Miles Bridges did his part with 33 points, breaking Scott Skiles’ freshman scoring record at the school. Skiles scored 32 against Ohio State on Feb. 24, 1983.
“It would’ve felt way better with a win,” Bridges said. “But I give my teammates all the credit for that. They set good screens and made good passes.”
Bridges was 12 of 17 from the field, making 5 of 8 3-point attempts and 4 of 6 free throws, in a game-high 36 minutes.
“I was in a zone,” he said. “The hoop looked like the ocean to me. I was just throwing a rock in there.”
The Boilermakers, though, were simply too big and balanced for the undersized and short-handed Spartans, whose biggest players, Gavin Schilling and Ben Carter, are out with knee injuries.
“We’re a little different, obviously, with our size,” Painter said.
The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Swanigan led the way with his nation-leading 17th double-double.
“He basically won the game for them,” Bridges said. “But that’s what big-time players do.”
Purdue took control in the second half, getting post players Kenny Goins and Nick Ward in foul trouble, after trailing by as many as eight points in the first half.
THE BIG PICTURE
Purdue: The big Boilermakers are tough to beat with their size inside and outside shooting. And with Painter, they always appear to play hard.
Michigan State: The Spartans are reeling, and their Hall of Fame coach will be challenged to turn them around. If they can’t find a second or third scorer, their NCAA Tournament streak may end. Izzo insisted he’s not thinking about extending the streak, or having it snapped.
“I know what I’m doing,” said Izzo, sounding feisty. “I know what this team is doing and I know what they’re going through.”
Unlike Bridges, Swanigan had help. Purdue’s Carsen Edwards scored 12 points and Isaac Haas, a 7-2 reserve, had 11 points. Vincent Edwards, P.J. Thompson and Dakota Mathias added 10 points apiece for the Boilermakers.
The Spartans, meanwhile, didn’t have a second player score in double figures.
INSIDE AND OUT
Purdue pounds the ball inside and kicks it back out to shooters, who combined to make 11 of 21 3-point attempts against the Spartans.
“When you have that inside presence and the balance of 3-point shooting, that puts them in a tough spot,” Painter acknowledged.
Goins, who fouled out in 17 minutes, finished the game in pain.
“I think Kenny broke his nose,” Izzo said.
Purdue: Plays at Nebraska on Sunday, its second of four games on the road in a five-game stretch that may prove to be pivotal in its quest to win a Big Ten title for the first time since 2010.
Michigan State: Hosts rival Michigan on Sunday.