Branden Dawson scored a career-high 20 points as No. 12 Michigan State grabbed their 20th victory of the season with a 78-65 win on the road over the Purdue Boilermakers (12-12, 5-6) Saturday night.
Once again, as was the case last season, Dawson was the beneficiary of some blunt crowd remarks from Purdue fans that still have ill will towards his decision not to become a Boilermaker two years ago. And once again, the sophomore from Gary, Ind. made the crowd pay.
Last season in his only visit to Mackey Arena Dawson scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Tonight, he shot 77 percent from the field (7-of-9), and grabbed three rebounds on his way to 20 points.
Dawson got a lot of help from his teammates, and Detroit Pershing alumni, Derrick Nix and Keith Appling. The two Detroit natives each had 17 points, and Appling continued to show why the ball must be in his hands in the closing minutes.
While the Spartans (20-4, 9-2) had a comfortable lead for a large portion of the second half, Appling knocked down a 3-pointer with 8:42 left to put the Spartans up 15, but also jump started an 11-point run by Appling himself.
Purdue’s Terone Johnson had a game-high 20 points, and Ronnie Johnson added 15 points and eight assists. The Spartans were able to cool down the red hot Purdue freshman A.J. Hammons, as they held him to only 13 points and eight rebounds.
D.J. Byrd, the Boilermakers lone senior averaging nearly 10 ppg, didn’t even attempt a shot until the final minutes of the game, and I’m sure Purdue coach Matt Painter wasn’t pleased with his lack of productivity in a game of this magnitude.
Michigan State is now atop the Big Ten standings, and have their biggest game of the season this Tuesday when the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines come to East Lansing.