EAST LANSING — Matt Painter knew Purdue would need to stop Michigan State from making runs to beat the No. 18 Spartans. And up until the 13:14 moment of the second half, the Boilermakers had managed to do it.
Then came a technical foul for an elbow.
Trailing by two points, Anthony Johnson had created a turnover and was streaking for the basket. As he went up, he was fouled by Michigan State's Travis Trice and had a chance to go to the line to tie the game.
Except the refs went to the scorer's table to review the play and came away calling a technical foul on Johnson for throwing his elbow as the play concluded. Trice would go make both free throws for the Spartans and the 2-point lead would explode as Michigan State went on a 25-5 run over the next seven minutes.
The run all but put the game away as Purdue (7-7, 1-1) lost 84-61 to Michigan State (11-3, 1-1) Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center.
“You are going to have some things go against you and a lot of things right in a row went against us,” Painter said. “The things you have to talk about as a coach are the things you can control, and you know, we fouled, we missed our free throws and then we missed a couple layups and had breakdowns.”
The Spartans run came directly after Purdue had found a spark to begin the second half by going inside. After trailing by six at halftime, Purdue made it a point to get the ball inside to AJ Hammons.
He responded by scoring five of Purdue's first nine points in the half, including an emphatic dunk of an alley-oop pass from Terone Johnson that gave Purdue a 39-38 lead with 16:04 left in the game. Hammons would finish the game with 20 points and seven rebounds.
“Purdue is a very well-coached, tough, physical team, and I think we were trying to make Hammons an All-American and almost did, but give him credit because made some big plays, too,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said.
Michigan State's speed and guard play frustrated Purdue doing it's big run as well. The Spartans were able to get out in transition and finished with 12 fastbreak points compared to zero for Purdue.
And Michigan State's Gary Harris was the biggest component of it. The freshman point guard led all scorers in the game with 22 points, including six 3-pointers on eight attempts.
“Gary Harris just killed us,” Painter said. “Obviously, hitting six threes, he got into a rhythm and a couple of them we had to breakdown, and a couple of them just finding each other and making nice passes. You can't let a guy like that get going.”
Purdue also was hurt by a category it typically wins against its opponents – rebounds. After the two teams each had 22 rebounds in the first half, Michigan State outrebounded the Boilermakers 22-13 in the second half.
“We started missing and having some breakdowns and when you do that they're going to get into transition and then your rebound balance isn't going to be as good,” Painter said. “If you're scrambling to find your man before a shot goes up, you're normally scrambling to find someone to box out.”