WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP)—Purdue’s Big Ten season got off to a rocky start, but the Boilermakers are right where they expected to be—in the hunt for the conference title.
The preseason favorites lost their first two Big Ten games while fighting through injuries to starters Robbie Hummel and Chris Kramer. After Tuesday night’s 72-54 victory over No. 6 Michigan State, the 19th-ranked Boilermakers are one game behind the league-leading Spartans with five games to go.
“You still have a lot of work to do,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “You have five one-game seasons. The race starts with our game on Saturday (against Indiana), and when that game’s over, the race starts again.”
The Boilermakers (20-6, 9-4) have Hummel and Kramer back. Hummel has been slowed for most of the season by a hairline fracture in his lower back, and Kramer struggled for several weeks with a sprained left foot.
Purdue is a threat in what appears to be a three-team race alongside Michigan State and No. 18 Illinois. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he expects the race to go down to the end.
“I said at the beginning of the year, middle of the year, end of the year, that four or five losses could win the league,” he said.
Purdue tightened the race by forcing 22 turnovers, blocking eight shots and holding Michigan State to 33 percent shooting.
“I think it was one of our better performances defensively of the year,” Painter said. “Guys did a good job getting into the basketball, understanding what Michigan State was trying to do. But maybe more important than anything was having a concentrated effort, stopping them from getting into transition.”
JaJuan Johnson scored 17 points, E’Twaun Moore had 13 and Hummel added 11 for Purdue in his first start since missing three games with a hairline fracture in his lower back.
Kalin Lucas scored 14 points and Durrell Summers added 11 for Michigan State (20-5, 10-3), which had won three in a row.
The Spartans tied a season low for points. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was disappointed in the effort, considering what was at stake.
“We missed some easy shots and made too many turnovers in the second half,” he said. “You don’t come into a place like this and play average and win.”
No. 10 Marquette 79, Seton Hall 67
At Milwaukee, Wesley Matthews scored 24 points and Marquette opened the second half with a decisive 16-3 run.
Lazar Hayward added 14 points for the Golden Eagles (22-4, 11-2 Big East).
Jeremy Hazell scored 23 points for the Pirates (14-11, 5-8), who have lost two straight games to top 10 teams after having their five-game winning streak snapped by No. 1 Connecticut on Saturday.
No. 13 Clemson 93, Maryland 64
At Clemson, S.C Trevor Booker had 11 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Tigers.
Terrence Oglesby had 16 points for Clemson (21-4, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), which bounced back from an overtime loss to Virginia two days earlier with its second conference win of 27 points or more this season.
Landon Milbourne scored 13 points and Greivis Vasquez added 12 for the Terrapins (16-9, 5-6).