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January 21, 2012
EAST LANSING - Freshman EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State got a much-needed win and moved into a first-place tie in the Big Ten.
Freshman Branden Dawson scored 14 points to help the ninth-ranked Spartans pull away and beat Purdue 83-58 Saturday.
Michigan State (16-4, 5-2 Big Ten) snapped its second two-game skid this season and matched its largest margin of victory against the Boilermakers, equaling its 25-point win in 2006.
"That was a first-place game," said Spartans center Derrick Nix, who scored 12 points. "We needed this win to regroup after two bad losses."
Purdue (14-6, 4-3) has lost three of its last five games.
It wasn't set up for success in the latest setback.
The Boilermakers were scheduled to fly from Indiana late Friday afternoon, but their first plane had a problem, leading to them getting another aircraft that sat on the runway for 3 hours late in the evening and didn't take off. Coaches and players went home to take naps before boarding a bus at 4:45 a.m. and arriving in East Lansing a little more than 2 hours before tipoff.
Purdue coach Matt Painter refused to say the team's travel woes led to the rout.
"I think that's an excuse in my opinion," Painter said.
The Boilermakers were competitive early in the game, but a Brandon Wood 3-pointer put Michigan State ahead with five-plus minutes left in the first half and it didn't give up the lead.
The Spartans led by seven at halftime and built a 23-point lead midway through the second half in which they outscored Purdue 52-34.
"I feel good about the win, but I also want to give respect to a team that went through some tough things," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I think Matt did a great job of getting them ready under the circumstances."
The Boilermakers didn't have a double-digit scorer until Lewis Jackson made two free throws with 7:23 left in the game. Jackson finished with 10 points and reserve Neal Beshears also scored 10.
Purdue's Robbie Hummel failed to make a shot for the first time in his injury-filled career that dates to 2007, going 0 for 11 and scoring just two points to match a personal low. Hummel, who entered the game averaging a team-high 16 points, tore the ACL in his right knee nearly two years ago and missed last season after re-injuring the same knee.
Painter said he heard someone say, "I hope you tear your ACL again," during Saturday's game and the coach responded with some words of his own.
"We got guys in our student section that probably say some things that are out of line, too, but I'm just not taking that," Painter said. "Somebody has to fight for him."
Izzo said he would've thrown the fans out if he heard him say that to Hummel.
Painter also said Dawson engaged him by "rubbing it in" near the Purdue bench during the lopsided game.
Dawson insisted he was simply talking with Boilermakers he knows such as Anthony Johnson when Painter lashed out at him.
"I think it all had to do with me not going there," said Dawson, who is from Gary, Ind. "They've got a great program and Coach Painter is a great coach."
Izzo said he would be disappointed if in fact Dawson was talking to Painter.
"If he was, I'm going to handle it," Izzo said.
Branden Dawson's throwdown against the Boilermakers (Courtesy of BTN)
In the first half, Michigan State relied on Nix and Austin Thornton while its leading scorers -- Draymond Green and Keith Appling -- made only one shot each before halftime.
Nix and Thornton combined for 13 points in the first half as the Spartans led 31-24. Nix finished with 12 points and Thornton scored 11, the senior's highest total against a Big Ten team.
"A lot of teams are going to try to take our first two options away," Appling said. "Other guys got to step up because the opportunity is coming."
Green had eight points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Appling ended up scoring 10 points and making five assists.
The Spartans had lost two straight at home to Purdue, which beat them 67-47 in their last matchup at the Breslin Center, and avoided their first three-game losing streak to a team in East Lansing since Izzo became head coach in 1995.
Saturday's postgame press conference however, had more drama than the end of the game itself. Despite having a career-high performance against Purdue, the play of freshman Branden Dawson wasn't the topic of conversation. Purdue head coach Matt Painter - who heavily recruited the 5-star Indiana native - was asked about an apparent exchange between he and Dawson as the freshman was running by their bench during the second half.
A closer look at Painter's comments on Dawson and an apparent insinuation that a difference between the philosophy of the two programs exists.
"We didn't have an exchange; he said something to me," Painter said of Dawson. "I think the one thing you have to do is only coach one team. My players are not going to talk to opposing coaches, so that's how we do it. I'm not letting a 19-year-old kid talk to me, stick it to us. But to each their own."
Ten minutes later, Izzo was asked about the incident. It appeared that it was the first time Izzo had heard about Dawson's interaction with Painter.
"If he was, I'm going to handle it,because I made sure he wouldn't," Izzo said with a look of both surprise and concern. "That would disappoint me a lot, so I'll handle that if he did. And my apologies to Matt. I mean, he didn't trash talk Matt, he was trash talking some player there."
But in act three, Dawson defended himself to a throng of hungry reporters, saying that Painter must have misunderstood him. And as Dawson ran back down the court, he said he heard Painter yell to him, 'I don't have to take your (expletive), Dawson'.
Dawson then went to the ref and tried to explain the misunderstanding.
"I told the ref I didn't say nothing to him," Dawson explained. "I was talking to Anthony Johnson, I said 'Let's go.' I clapped my hands kind of in his face and I guess coach Painter thought I was taunting him or something. I don't have a problem with coach Painter, he's a great coach and I respect him."