2/17/21 Michigan State, Eric Hunter Jr.

Junior guard Eric Hunter Jr. attempts a 3-point shot over the outstretched arms of Michigan State’s AJ Hoggard. Hunter was 2 for 3 on 3-point attempts during his 15-point performance in Tuesday’s game.

Despite a lack of 3-pointers, the Purdue men’s basketball team still pulled off a win over Michigan State Tuesday night in a hard-fought game that seemed to leave players and coaches in a good mood.

The Boilers (14-8, 9-6 Big Ten) made only three 3-pointers in 12 attempts in the 40 minutes of play, all of which came in the second half. Two came from junior guard Eric Hunter Jr., and one came from freshman guard Jaden Ivey.

Hunter said the team emphasizes continuing to play and getting the rebound whether or not a shot from deep goes in.

In its last win over Northwestern, the Boilers made eight between the two halves. This lack of success from the arc gave the Spartans (10-9, 4-9) an advantage as their own 3-pointers propelled them into the lead multiple times throughout the night.

Still, Purdue held onto the lead for most of the game. Whenever Michigan State took the lead it was only by a few points, so Purdue always quickly recovered. The lead switched eight times throughout the night.

“We just try to stick together,” Hunter said.

In addition to struggling from the arc, Purdue had a mediocre performance from the free-throw line. The Boilers shot a 66.7% free-throw percentage which was pumped up late in the game when freshman forward Mason Gillis went 8-for-8 from the line.

The Boilermakers’ success was mostly due to a strong effort from within the paint by junior forward Trevion Williams, who logged 28 points from all around the court in the 30 minutes he played. After the game, Williams returned to the court to make a few extra free throws after missing four of his six attempts in the game.

“I know the team relies on me,” Williams said.

Purdue has only four more regular season games, two on the road before finishing out the season at home, before the Big Ten Tournament and March Madness. This win could serve as a source of momentum to push the team forward and end the regular season on a high note, as well as a resume booster come Selection Sunday.

“Obviously, we have no choice but to keep rolling,” Williams said. “We want to keep building off this win.”

The Boilermakers are heading back on the road to take on Nebraska (5-13, 1-10) on Saturday. The game was scheduled to be a rematch, but the Jan. 5 game the teams were set to play in Mackey Arena was postponed by a COVID-19 outbreak within the Cornhuskers roster. That initial game has not yet been rescheduled.

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