Purdue lost its shot at a regular-season conference championship, but its pursuit of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament still remains.
The No. 6 Boilermakers must continue their dominance of Michigan State to keep those hopes alive.
Purdue looks for its third win this season against the Spartans on Friday night when the teams meet in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament.
The Boilermakers (25-6) suffered a 67-65 upset loss Saturday at Iowa which gave No. 1 Ohio State the league crown. The defeat also snapped Purdue’s seven-game winning streak and forced it into the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament.
Big Ten player of the year JaJuan Johnson scored 22 points and added 12 rebounds for the Boilermakers, who likely will have to win the conference tournament title for a chance to earn their first NCAA tournament No. 1 seed since 1996.
“(The Hawkeyes) played harder than us (Saturday). It sucks to say that at this point in the year, but they really did,” Johnson said. “It’s just how we respond to it. It could be a blessing in disguise.”
If Purdue is to prove Johnson correct, it likely will need an effort similar to the previous two meetings against the Spartans.
Johnson scored 20 points in each matchup this season, both Boilermakers victories. Purdue swept two regular-season contests from Michigan State for the first time since 1996-97.
E’Twaun Moore scored 26 points Jan. 22 in an 86-76 home victory, then added 17 against the Spartans in a 67-47 rout Feb. 27.
The contests are stern reminders of an underachieving season for seventh-seeded Michigan State.
Ranked No. 2 to start the season after back-to-back Final Four appearances, the Spartans (18-13) are on the bubble to earn a 14th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance under coach Tom Izzo.
Michigan State’s 66-61 first-round victory Thursday against 10th-seeded Iowa helped improve its case.
Draymond Green, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds against Purdue in January, scored 21 points and grabbed 14 boards to pace the Spartans.
Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers are 11-3 in the NCAA tournament, giving them the most tournament wins of any senior class in the nation. A victory against Purdue may help give them a chance to improve that mark.
Lucas scored 23 points in the February loss to Purdue, the worst home defeat for Michigan State since a 72-50 loss Dec. 3, 2003, against Duke. Lucas is shooting just 39.4 percent – including 17.6 percent from 3-point range – in eight career meetings against the Boilermakers.
“We have to D up,” Lucas said. “We have to play with more energy (than Purdue) in the first five minutes of the game – that’s going to be very key. We have to make sure to come out very aggressive and just focus.”
The Spartans have beaten the Boilermakers in their only two meetings in the conference tournament, winning a quarterfinal matchup 54-42 in 2003 and a first-round meeting 70-58 in 2006.
Michigan State is the only Big Ten team to reach the quarterfinals in all 14 conference tournaments.
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