(From The Sports Network)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Breslin Center (14,759) -- East Lansing, Michigan. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Purdue 15-0, MSU 11-2. Away Record: Purdue 6-4, MSU 2-7. Neutral Record: Purdue 2-1, MSU 3-2. Conference Record: Purdue 12-3, MSU 8-7. Series Record: Purdue leads, 64-45.
GAME NOTES: The eighth-ranked Purdue Boilermakers shoot for their first regular-season sweep of Michigan State since 1997 when the two Big Ten Conference squads collide this afternoon at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
Purdue, which defeated the Spartans back on January 22nd by a score of 86-76 at home, is currently second in the league standings behind only Ohio State as the Boilermakers sport a 12-3 mark. Purdue is enjoying a five-game win streak at the moment, thanks to a 72-61 victory over Indiana earlier this week on the road in Bloomington. Undefeated at home in 2010-11 with a 15-0 record, the Boilermakers have been exposed a bit on the road with just six wins in 10 opportunities.
As for the Spartans, they are shooting for their first three-game win streak since opening the campaign with victories over Eastern Michigan, South Carolina and Chaminade. The team has been up and down at best and is coming off a come-from-behind victory over Minnesota on the road five days ago, 53-48. With the decision MSU is now 8-7 in conference which has it fourth in the standings heading into play today.
In the first meeting of the season last month, it was E'Twaun Moore who led the way for the Boilermakers with his game-high 26 points, followed by JaJuan Johnson who dropped in 20 as Purdue moved to 64-45 in the all-time series.
JaJuan Johnson scored a game-high 20 points at Assembly Hall in Bloomington earlier this week, leading the way for the Boilermakers into the win column yet again. Johnson accounted for nine rebounds, matching the total pulled by D.J. Byrd who also tallied 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting behind the three-point line. E'Twaun Moore responded with 17 points and five assists for a squad that ended up shooting an even 50 percent from the floor, despite making just 8- of-23 from three-point range. The Boilermakers also hurt themselves with just 14-of-24 shooting at the free-throw line as well. Over the course of 15 conference games Johnson has been hard to stop as he generates a lofty 20.5 ppg and is also tops on the glass with almost eight rebounds per game. His physical play and attacking still have earned him 100 trips to the free-throw line in those Big Ten matchups, resulting in 89 conversions. Moore is an outstanding complement to Johnson, what with his 18.2 ppg and 52 assists, many of which have gone to Johnson on the inside when Moore can't find a clear shot from three-point range where he is 41.4 percent accurate.
Kalin Lucas was again the only Spartan to score in double figures as he delivered 18 points, yet that was still a strong enough effort to get Michigan State into the win column at Minnesota on Tuesday night. The Spartans trailed by seven with less than 3:40 remaining in regulation, but the team got a big boost at the free-throw line in order to secure the comeback win. In fact, after not making a single trip to the charity stripe in the first half, MSU made good on 11-of-15 after the break. As one of only two players to have started all 15 conference games for the Spartans, it only makes sense that Lucas is the key piece in the puzzle with his 17.7 ppg and 51 assists. Draymond Green may not be quite the scoring threat that Lucas is, but Green supplements his 13.2 ppg versus league foes with a lefty 8.0 rpg and a team- best 62 assists and 27 steals, so there's not much he can't do when the need strikes the Spartans. What MSU does need to work on is perimeter defense, seeing as how Big Ten opponents have connected on 40.7 percent of their three- point tries thus far.
If Lucas is again left to carry the Spartans then the hosts will most certainly be in danger of being swept by Purdue. Besides, having a two-pronged attack like Moore and Johnson is tough to match no matter how many teammates come to the rescue of Lucas.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Purdue 72, Michigan State 58