Spartans Toughness Wins Physical Big Ten Game Over Purdue 72-66
East Lansing, MI
On senior night for the 2014-2015 Spartan team, Branden Dawson was injured at the 8:38 point of the first half and didnâ€™t return. Izzo said they thought he had a concussion at first but, â€œHeâ€™s walking around. He was out of it at halftime. Flat on the table. No idea right now. He was bleeding a little bit. We just have to wait and see.â€
It didnâ€™t matter. The best crowd of the season combined with the most physically tough performance of the year and the best team basketball of the season equaled a win.
Purdue head coach Matt Painter said of this old school, physical Big Ten battle, â€œI thought our guys didnâ€™t embrace how the game was called. We had games like this where they let us play and I didnâ€™t think we made some physical plays. I thought there was a lot of contact, but it was fine because it was consistent across the board and it allows you to be more physical on defense.â€ He went on toad, â€œTravis Trice was the difference tonight.â€
On the night senior Travis Trice had 27 points, two rebounds, six assists and two blocks. He was amazing. Denzel Valentine had 17 points and six rebounds and Matt Costello had 13 points and seven rebounds. Costello also had the biggest play of the night with a big offensive rebound that he converted with a thunder dunk and a rare emotional outburst.
Izzo said of Trice, â€œHe made some big shots. Then he made some good shots, and then he made some tough shots. That was a character building game for this team. Somewhere they know (now) that they can suck it up when things are against them.â€ Izzo added about senior night in general that, â€œI take a vested interest in their life. Sometimes you can get too close.â€
Tom Izzo was equally impressed with the physicality of the game. â€œWelcome to NFL films. That was a helluva game. I just know there were two teams that played awfully hard. I enjoy playing a team that plays as hard as they do. They are an NCAA team if I have ever seen one.â€
In the last 18 years, this was Tom Izzoâ€™s 15th 20+ win season. He said of the achievement, â€œI just look at the schedule we play every year and consistency is what I strive for every time. Someday I will be done years for now and elaborate on all the great things that have happened to me. Yeah I feel good about the 20 wins.â€
The Spartans return to action on Saturday when the take on the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington. That game is set for a 12 (Noon) tip. Should the Spartans win it, they will be assured a third place seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans record for the season improves to 20-10 (11-6) in the Big Ten.