Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 12, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS — For the third consecutive season and the fourth time in the last five years, Michigan State will play in the Big Ten tourney title game.
[ MORE: View our Big Ten tournament central page ]
The Spartans held off third-seeded Maryland, 64-61, to advance to Sunday's tourney final vs. the Boilermakers, who knocked off eighth-seeded Michigan, 76-59.
If Michigan State wins the championship, which would mark its event-leading fifth crown, it would seem to have a good chance to be a No. 1 seed. It may have one locked up, regardless.
Get my best of Semifinal Saturday below.
Biggest surprise: No big shockers today. The ease with which Purdue dispatched Michigan was a bit of a shock. But, then again, this was the Wolverines? third game in three days. They had to be running on fumes. Not only that, they were playing in front of a pro-Purdue crowd.
Biggest disappointment: No major disappointments, either. But Maryland had a good chance to topple Michigan State and let it get away. The Terps got the ball back late down one point with an opportunity to win the game in the dying seconds, but Melo Trimble?s drive to the hoop failed and the Spartans grabbed the rebound. It was a tough day for Trimble, who hit just 2-of-14 shots.
Top stat line: A.J. Hammons was a man among boys, hitting 11-of-17 shots en route to tallying 27 points. He also added 11 rebounds and three blocks. The guy was unstoppable. He also had just one foul. The guy played like former Purdue 7-0 All-American Joe Barry Carroll.
Top stat: .933, Michigan State's free-throw percentage (14-15) vs. Maryland, which loomed very large in what turned out to be a 64-61 victory.
Top dunk: It happened on Michigan State?s first hoop of the game, as Denzel Valentine lofted an alley-oop pass to Deyonta Davis for a thunderous jam.
Top block: No question about it, it's Deyonta Davis' clutch block late in Michigan State narrow victory over Maryland.
Did you see this? Less than two minutes into the game, Michigan State?s Eron Harris and Maryland?s Jake Layman tussled, which resulted in a technical foul on both players.
"But this win will feel better when I get home. I just — we have bigger dreams than to win a game right now, and I guess that's — if you don't learn from the mistakes you make, if they're not addressed, you never get better at them. And so these two are going to address them. I'm going to address them. And then we're going to move on to Purdue." – Michigan State?s Tom Izzo, after dispatching Maryland
"I think just tried to hold him accountable, like any of your other guys. And, as a coach, sometimes not flying off the handle on certain things but making sure there's consequences when he doesn't do anything. He forgot his shoes at Wisconsin. He was late to the bus at Northwestern. His freshman year walking in late, hair disheveled, things like that.? – Matt Painter on the maturity of A.J. Hammons over the years
"As I always say, it's such a great committee there. At the same time, the strength of our schedule is — you know, talk about top-50 teams. We beat top-25 teams. We beat the champion of our league. If anybody here thought that was a home game for us yesterday, they're crazy. That was not a home game against Indiana. This was not a home game today. Our kids battled all year long." – Michigan coach John Beilein, on his team?s NCAA chances
A.J. Hammons had 27 points (11?of?17 FG, 5?of?7 FT), 11 rebounds and three blocked shots against Michigan. He?s now the all?time leader in Big Ten Tournament play with 17 blocks. Hammons has recorded 96 total points in tournament play and his 11 field goals ties for fifth?most in a Big Ten Tournament game.
Purdue held a 44?28 advantage for points in the paint.
A.J. Hammons and Isaac Hayes combined for 38 points in 40 minutes today.
Today marked Matt Painter?s 400th game as a head coach. He has a record of 263?137 (.658).
Purdue out?rebounded Michigan, 41?26. It?s the 31st time in 33 games that the Boilermakers have held an edge on the boards. Coming into today?s contest, Purdue ranked second in the nation (behind Michigan State) in rebounding margin with +11.2.
Over its last six games, Purdue is averaging 84.8 points per game (433), shooting .547 from the field (180?of?329), hitting .455 (41?of?90) of its three?point field goals and averaging 20.5 assists per game (123).
Purdue?s two?game 2016 Big Ten Tournament averages: 82.5 ppg, .557 FG percentage, +16.5 rpg margin.
On Purdue?s updated career records lists, A.J. Hammons ranks second in blocked shots.
Michigan State has won seven in a row and 11 of its last 12 games. The last loss? A one-point defeat at Purdue.
Maryland is the only team in the Big Ten with five players averaging double-figures.
Michigan State?s Bryn Forbes, the nation?s top marksman from beyond the arc, was held without a 3-pointer for the first time in 15 games.
Tom Izzo is 98-42 (.700) in March. From 2009 to today, Izzo is 45-15 (.750) in March.
Maryland is 3-5 in its last eight games.
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