Spartans Shut Down Edwards, Plow Past Boilers, Continue To Plow Through B1G

Spartans Shut Down Edwards, Plow Past Boilers, Continue To Plow Through B1G

Basketball

Spartans Shut Down Edwards, Plow Past Boilers, Continue To Plow Through B1G

Michigan State extended its winning streak to 9 games with its 77-59 defeat of Purdue at the Breslin Center.  Suffocating defense and balanced scoring was, once again, the recipe for success.

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Purdue’s Carsen Edwards has been one of the nation’s top scorers throughout this college basketball season.

He’s a sensational player who finds ways to score from all areas of the court.

The 6’1″ firecracker came into Tuesday night’s matchup against #5/#6 Michigan State averaging 25.5 points  a game – good for leading scorer status across all major college teams.

Matt McQuaid and Aaron Henry applied suffocating defense all night and Edwards ended the game with a season-low 11 points after going 3 of 16 from the floor.

Edwards didn’t have any assists and he committed 4 turnovers.

Cassius Winston was Cassius Winston once again, to the surprise of nobody who’s been paying attention.

Michigan State’s floor general finished the night with 23 points on 7 of 14 from the floor, 4 of 7 from 3-point range, and and 5 of 7 from the free throw line.

Winston had 5 assists, 6 rebounds, and a steal.

Winston’s final numbers speak for themselves – and the fact that his performance wasn’t really even the main takeaway from this win speaks volumes about the way these Spartans are playing.

It was the defense of McQuaid and Henry – along with the rest of the team defense that made the entire Purdue team frustrated all night long – that made the impression.

“That won us the game,” Winston said. “The way that team was playing if he got going it would have been real ugly for us. They cut it to four or something and if he made couple more shots it’s a whole different type of game.

“They won this game today.”

Michigan State is now 14-2 and 5-0 in the Big Ten and the Spartans will try to extend their winning streak to 10 games with a trip to Penn State on Sunday.

Matt McQuaid might have scored “only” 9 points on the night but the defense he played on one of the nation’s most electric scorers was a demonstration of defensive effort, fundamental execution, and Spartan toughness that was constant.

McQuaid had Edwards off balance from the opening tip, forced Edwards into awkward heaves from far out of his range, and frustrated the Boilers’ star in a way he hasn’t been frustrated at all yet this season.

Perhaps just as importantly, freshman Aaron Henry took a huge step Tuesday night with 22 strong minutes on the floor, much of it giving McQuaid relief on the mission to shut down Edwards.

Henry also added 4 points to his performance.

On a night like Tuesday night, it’s easy to almost forget about how great of a player Nick Ward has evolved into through his constant work, development, and focus.

Ward scored 16 big points and grabbed 9 rebounds.

Ward was perfect from the free throw line, going 6 for 6.

And Ward ran the floor like a speedster from start to finish, benefitting from the transition game on several occasions by hustling downcourt immediately after a Boiler miss on the defensive end.

He played like a beast in the paint and outmuscled the Boilers all night.

Xavier Tillman demonstrated that he has a future in the NBA once again if he continues to develop as he has.

Tillman scored 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds.

He hustled, going to the floor to grab loose balls, and made an NBA spin move under the basket that showed speed and fantastic footwork that will only get better with moe time in the gym.

Kenny Goins grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with 7 points.

The Spartans didn’t just make it a frustrating night for Carsen Edwards – Michigan State held the Purdue offense to 31.3% shooting on the night.

The Spartans lead the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense.

On two occasions midway through the second half, Purdue managed to cut Michigan State’s lead to 4 points – but each time, the Spartans responded by rattling off baskets that kept the game from ever really becoming tense.

But, the defense on Edwards stole the show.

“Matt McQuaid was unbelievable,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “We guarded him the way we wanted to. We ran him off screens, we had our bigs help out. I thought we did everything we had to do. That kid is a helluva player.

“I just think Matt and second half (was good) and I thought Aaron Henry also did a good job on him.”

It was a typical bruising battle between Purdue and Michigan State and the final score probably doesn’t properly represent how hard the two teams went at each other.

But, the final score is what it is and Michigan State did what it had to do to pull away and win another winnable game in impressive fashion.

With each victory, this team continues to build momentum, gain confidence, and maybe even develop a little bit of its own type of swagger.

Next up is a trip to Penn State where a victory would get the Spartans to 15-2 and 6-0.

Just like Tuesday night’s win, the truth is that the game against Penn State should be won.

And it’s starting to look like just about every game on the schedule falls into that category for these surging Spartans.

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