The No. 12 Michigan State Spartans (19-4, 8-2) will face the Purdue Boilemakers (12-11, 5-5) at 7 p.m. this Saturday at Mackey Arena in a matchup that has trap game written all over it.
The Spartans are coming off an important 61-50 victory over No. 18 Minnesota on Wednesday night. However, in the process of grabbing their 14th straight home victory, they added a few players to their already extensive injury list. Sophomore guard Travis Trice was already out with concussion symptoms that he suffered against Illinois, and freshman Gary Harris put on a gutsy performance while struggling with severe back pains that he also suffered against the Fighting Illini. Keith Appling hurt his right shoulder with 1:17 left to play on Wednesday, Adreian Payne suffered a shot to the face that Tom Izzo thought may have broken his big man’s nose, and Branden Dawson suffered a twisted ankle in the second half that caused him to miss several possessions.
All of these guys (besides Trice) will play in tomorrow’s game, but it will be interesting to see if all of the injuries the Spartans have suffered will show up on the court. Also, if the injuries aren’t enough for MSU to handle, they host their in-state rival the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines on Tuesday.
Michigan State defeated Purdue 84-61 on Jan. 5 in their biggest margin of victory in the Big Ten this season. Izzo must make sure that with all the injuries that his squad has suffered that they come out with urgency and don’t look ahead to their huge game around the corner.
Matchup To Watch For: A.J. Hammons vs. Adreian Payne
Hammons is one of the bright spots for the present and future of Purdue basketball. The freshman is averaging 11 ppg and nearly 7 rpg — which makes him the second leading scorer and first in rebounding. In his last three game, Hammons is averaging 21.3 points and 10 rebounds — which includes a 30-point effort against Indiana.
Payne has been MSU’s best interior player on both sides of the ball all season, and he has also expanded his game to the perimeter in recent weeks. The junior is averaging 9.4 ppg, nearly 7 rpg and 1.2 bpg this season. Payne has the ability to stretch the floor as he shoots 63 percent from beyond the arc (7-of-11) this season, and his long stride and decent handle for a big man allows him to take his defender to the bucket from the perimeter.