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 Brandon Wood's 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 reinjuring 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.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.