EAST LANSING – Massive Purdue big man Zach Edey showed why he could be the best player in the Big Ten.
Little Michigan basketball guard Tyson Walker showed why he is arguably the league’s most influential.
In the end, size mattered.
Edey scored a career-high 32 points with 17 rebounds and hit a layup with 2.2 seconds left to help the third-seeded Boilermakers escape Breslin Center with a hard-fought 64-63 win on Monday afternoon.
Walker — who defeated Purdue at Breslin last year on a step-back 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left for a 68-65 victory — looked set to hit the disruptive shot again. The senior guard chased and pecked his way into the paint in the last 20 seconds, pulled back to the right wing, delivered a crossover dribble to free himself and hit a jump shot with 10.8 seconds to play over Morton .
But the Boilermakers quickly pushed the ball upfield after an MSU timeout, finding Edey on the left block, and the 7-foot-4, 305-pound junior delivered a hookshot over Mady Sissoko for the eventual winner.
The Spartans got another chance after a timeout and shot the ball from the baseline under Purdue’s basket. AJ Hoggard’s long pass to Joey Hauser was tagged out of bounds by the Boilers’ Brandon Newman. Referees judged and clocked 1.8 seconds, with MSU getting the ball on the left baseline facing his bench.
Walker came off a screen at the top of the key and caught Hoggard’s pass. But Purdue’s Ethan Morton approached him and the ball fell just wide of the rim after time expired.
The 6-foot Walker scored his MSU high with 30 points on 12 for 23 shooting. Hoggard had 14 points and eight assists, while Hauser scored 10. The 6-9 Sissoko grabbed eight rebounds, but he battled back and forth against the taller Edey throughout the second half.
The Spartans (12-6, 4-3) will host Rutgers (6:30 PM/FS1) on Thursday.
Edey finished 13 of 26 shots. Fletcher Loyer, brother of former MSU guard Foster, added 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting for first-place Purdue (17-1, 6-1), which has won four straight since its only loss of the season at home against the Scarlet Knights.
News broke before the game that MSU might be without Malik Hall (left foot) for another extended absence.
Coach Tom Izzo did not specify on his pregame radio show what Hall’s latest injury is, but he expects the six-foot-tall senior forward may miss more time after sitting out eight games earlier this season with a stress reaction in his left foot. Hall was wearing a hiking boot when he came out with the team before the tip.
Whether that affected the Spartans early was hard to say, especially since the 7-4 Edey dominated anyone Izzo threw at him defensively. The Purdue junior reveled inside, making seven of his first 14 shots and posting a double-double at halftime with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
But it was a foul call on Mady Sissoko on one of Edey’s rebounds when their arms interlocked that infuriated Izzo. Purdue answered with a bouncing pass from Fletcher Loyer to a cutting Caleb Furst, whose backdoor cut for a dunk made it 24-11 Boilermakers and prompted MSU to call a timeout with 5:43 to go into the half .
It looked like a knockout blow. But it wasn’t.
The Spartans came out of timeout and Walker hit a midpaint float from a bouncing pass in Jaden Akins lane. Then Hoggard went deep into the paint, faltered and scored on a foul off Loyer. The three-point play turned the energy in Breslin from angry to hopeful.
Hoggard and Walker continued to play, each hitting jumpers to cut a gap from 13 points to five. After a few free throws from Edey, Hoggard drove onto the court again and Purdue’s big man hit his shot. But MSU freshman center Carson Cooper dove in to collect the ball and quickly scored a layup before Edey could pull away.
Then, with 10 seconds left before the break, Hoggard delivered a vicious crossover dribble that sent Purdue’s Ethan Morton sliding across the floor. Another defenseman switched and Hoggard fired the ball to Walker for a 3-pointer. The Spartans went into halftime trailing 27-25 and a 14-3 run over the final 5:09, holding the Boilers without a field goal through the final 5:47.
Walker had 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting at the half, while Hoggard had seven points and five assists.
That late-half surge continued into the second half, as Hauser immediately scored from the break, followed by a Hoggard 3-pointer and Walker jumper to give MSU a 32-27 lead – its first since 3: 36 in the match. at 5-4.
Defensively, the Spartans continued to shut down Edey early. However, that didn’t last. It started with a dunk by the big man, followed by a Loyer 3-pointer that tied it again at 32-all. Then Edey scored Purdue’s next seven runs with two more dunks and a three-point play. The Boilermakers’ 14-5 burst put them back on their feet, 41-37, with 10:36 remaining.
MSU came back with another huge counterpunch to recapture the lead on four consecutive free throws from Walker and Akins, then again on a Hauser jumper after Edey pulled Sissoko’s fourth foul and hit a pair of free throws. Score: 48-46 Spartans with 5:53 left to play.
Haymakers followed. By both teams. Many of them came from Walker, including two 3-pointers and a deep jumper that put MSU ahead 61-60 and prompted Purdue coach Matt Painter to call a timeout with 1:31 left.
In the end, Edey’s height advantage and post-attendance proved the difference. The Boilermakers finished with a 34-16 scoring advantage in the paint.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball loses at home to Zach Edey, Purdue, 64-63