No. 11 Michigan St. 68, Purdue 57
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP)—Michigan State coach Tom Izzo thought Gene Keady deserved a fitting tribute Saturday.
So he told his players to use Keady’s approach—play hard, play focused, play with passion. The 11th-ranked Spartans delivered.
Alan Anderson and Maurice Ager each scored 12 points and Michigan State limited Purdue to 36.8 percent shooting as the Spartans rolled to a 68-57 victory on a day Keady’s former players honored him at halftime.
“I told our players last night that, in all honesty, this was going to be an emotional day for me, too, because I love what he has done for the game of basketball,” Izzo said. “So I told them ‘The best compliment you can give him is to play your butt off.”’
Michigan State (19-4, 10-2 Big Ten) has won five straight and nine of 10 with the only loss in that stretch coming to No. 1 Illinois.
The Spartans are 5-1 in Big Ten road games where they have limited opponents to less than 37 percent shooting and an average of fewer than 60 points. Still, Izzo was not entirely pleased with what he saw in the final 4 minutes.
But he seemed to understand how a 20-point lead could get cut in half since this was Keady’s next-to-last home game and that dozens of ex-players, coaches and managers lined the court named for Keady in a halftime ceremony. Even former Spartans coach Jud Heathcote, one of Keady’s closest friends, watched from behind the Michigan State bench.
“I don’t think we fell backward today because we were playing a team I thought was at its emotional peak,” Izzo said. “But we didn’t take a step forward.”
For Keady, it was another tough day in his farewell season.
In his 25th year at Purdue, Keady adopted a throwback approach.
Dressed in a black suit and gold tie, he flailed his arms at officials looking for calls, barked at players repeatedly and occasionally pointed out where they should have been positioned on the floor. He even drew a technical foul in the second half and then—characteristically—slammed his jacket to the floor.
It was easily Keady’s most demonstrative game of the season.
Afterward, he again demonstrated the toughness that has defined his career by making no apologies.
“I’ve never liked this crew,” he said of the officials. “It’s nothing personal, but we’ve never had a good relationship or whatever you want to call it. I got fed up with the calls not been made consistently. … Of course the coat went off and I should have gotten two technicals. I should have been gone.”
That was the least of the problems for Purdue (7-16, 3-9).
The Boilermakers drew a shot clock violation on their first possession and couldn’t get the ball inbounds on their last, two series that typified the day.
In between, Purdue had to contend with other issues.
Carl Landry, the Big Ten’s top scorer, struggled after injuring his right knee in practice Friday night. He scored one point in the first half and finished with a season-low seven.
“I could run, but I had trouble making strong moves, and I couldn’t really box out aggressively hard because it hurt too much,” Landry said.
That forced David Teague into a bigger role. He scored 11 of the Boilermakers’ 18 first-half points and finished with 15.
But with Landry playing fewer minutes than normal and at less than full strength, the Spartans had the edge.
“Their guards didn’t have to worry about doubling down a lot and our big men didn’t get a lot of easy looks,” Teague said. “And the perimeter wasn’t open as much without Carl.”
Still, Michigan State scrapped its way to a 28-18 halftime lead. The Boilermakers got within 35-30 with 15:49 left on Brandon McKnight’s layup.
But Michigan State countered with a 12-0 run in which Shannon Brown scored four straight points—two on free throws after Keady’s technical and a 17-footer on the ensuing possession.
“I think that stretch got us the game,” center Paul Davis said.
Michigan State led by as many as 20 points and never let Purdue get within single digits the rest of the way.
All Keady could do was glare at his team and the officials, and all Izzo could do was feel Keady’s pain.
“I told him ‘Hang in there, Coach,”’ Izzo said. “I’m keeping track of what’s going on here, because I think it’s really undeserving he has to go through this at a place where he’s done so much.”