WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP)—As Brandon McKnight rose to take the biggest shot of the game in overtime, Purdue coach Gene Keady already knew what was going to happen.
“I saw the determination in his face when he took that jumper,” Keady said. “It said, ‘Hey we’re going to win this thing.”’
Keady’s intuition was right.
McKnight’s jumper gave No. 23 Purdue the lead for good in its 76-70 win over Michigan State on Sunday.
It also capped a brilliant final 25 minutes for McKnight, who finished with 10 points, seven assists and three steals. He got Purdue into the overtime, then made sure his effort wasn’t wasted.
McKnight drove the length of the floor for a layup with 8 seconds to go that forced overtime, then hit his jumper that propelled Purdue to its fourth straight win.
“All I was thinking was just attack,” McKnight said of his game-tying drive. “I didn’t see anybody in front of me, so I just went with it.”
The victory moved Purdue (14-4, 4-1) into a three-way tie with Wisconsin and Indiana for first place in the Big Ten and set up a showdown with the rival Hoosiers on Tuesday in Bloomington.
Kenneth Lowe led the Boilermakers with 18 points and Brett Buscher scored 13 of his 17 after halftime.
Paul Davis started the overtime with a dunk that gave Michigan State a 64-62 lead, but the Spartans (8-8, 3-2) missed their next eight shots and were outscored 14-6 the rest of the way.
Lowe’s leaning bank shot made it 68-64 for the Boilermakers, who led by 12 points in the second half.
“It’s one of the more disappointing losses I’ve had in my career here because I know what this win would’ve meant,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “If we play that well, we’ll win a lot of games.”
Michigan State appeared to have the game won in regulation when Alan Anderson went to the free throw line with a chance to give the Spartans a four-point lead with 15 seconds to go.
Anderson missed the front end of the 1-and-1 and McKnight’s drive tied the game at 62.
“There’s not one guy on my team I’d rather have at that free throw line than him,” Izzo said. “And it wasn’t in the cards.”
Maurice Ager then had a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner to win it for Michigan State, but the ball lodged between the rim and the backboard. The Spartans kept the ball with 1.7 seconds left on the alternate possession rule, but didn’t get off a shot.
Davis scored 18 points to lead the Spartans, who lost for the first time in four games.
David Teague’s tip-in gave Purdue a 41-31 lead with 17:21 to play in the second half, but Michigan State used a 15-4 run to take the lead midway through the period.
The Spartans got more aggressive during the run, taking the ball hard to the basket for easy layups and free throws.
“It’s a very hard loss,” said Michigan State guard Chris Hill, who had 18 points and six assists. “Obviously we played well enough to win and had ourselves in a great position to do it.”
Purdue couldn’t match Michigan State’s crisp execution. The Boilermakers shot 40 percent in the second half to the Spartans’ 63 percent and went 9:23 without a field goal to let their big lead evaporate.
“After the half we came back out lethargic, not sharp on defense,” Keady said. “We missed a lot of easy shots. When we get a team down, their backs are to the wall and they come back better prepared than us. But hey, we won the game and I’m going to enjoy this for at least three hours.”
They won thanks in large part to Buscher’s emergence in the second half. He scored six straight points and 10 of the team’s next 16 to get Purdue back in the game at 62-60.
“With a senior like him, I know he can really contribute,” Keady said. “In the last 10 minutes man, he played great.”
Teague had 13 points and was 3-of-6 from 3-point range.