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Purdue escapes with Smith injured and Edey dominant per usual

As the second half of Friday's Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal waged on, all eyes were on Michigan State. The Spartans fought tooth and nail to erase a 12-point second half deficit, but every time MSU got close, the dominance of Purdue's Zach Edey shone through.

The reigning National Player of the Year and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year willed the Boilermakers to the conference tournament semifinals almost single-handedly, scoring 29 points in Purdue's 67-62 win over Michigan State. Edey also totaled 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 35 minutes.

"It's amazing, just the way he creates for everybody else and just how dominant he is," Purdue guard Lance Jones said about his teammate, Edey. "They send a lot of bodies at him. As Coach [Matt] Painter was saying, they throw the whole kitchen sink. He never gets rattled or anything like that. He stays aggressive and always makes the right play."

Edey's strong play was especially needed after All-Big Ten guard and Bob Cousy Award finalist Braden Smith left the game with an injury midway through the second half. Smith later re-entered the game with Michigan State on a run, but he appeared to not be at 100%.

"I just hyperextended my knee and just bent it backwards," Smith said. "It didn't feel too good getting up, so I just tried to walk it off and figure out how to get back into the game."

With 12:26 remaining, Smith drove to the basket on a fastbreak. As Michigan State guard Tyson Walker took a swipe at the ball, his hand inadvertently hit Smith's left knee, pushing it back and sending Smith tumbling to the ground. Smith said the hyperextension gave him pain in the back of his calf, leading him to head to the locker room.

When Smith reemerged and entered the game four minutes later, he had a large, padded sleeve on his calf and was able to help Purdue finish off the Spartans. Michigan State battled back to tie the game at 56-56, but the Boilermakers pulled ahead for good, thanks to a left corner three from Fletcher Loyer with 1:22 to go. An Edey layup and free throws from Jones, Edey and Mason Gillis iced the game.

Even though Smith came back in and was able to contribute to the Purdue win, Painter acknowledged that his point guard was banged up when he returned to action.

"I thought he wasn't the same," Painter said. "He wasn't as aggressive. He didn't try to get to his pull-up or drive very much. He was just solid out there."

The Boilers were able to win without Smith playing as his usual self, but the sophomore's health could significantly impact Purdue's postseason success. Edey is a black hole on both sides of the floor, with his presence affecting everyone around him, but Smith is the cog that makes everything run smoothly. Although he finished out the game Friday, the extent to which Smith's injury impacts him could be the difference between a tournament run and an early exit.

"Sometimes those things — in the next day, you're perfectly fine, and sometimes they get progressively worse," Painter said. "We'll just kind of see what's going on and see how he's feeling tonight and tomorrow morning."