WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Branden Dawson scored 20 points and Keith Appling added 17, leading No. 12 Michigan State past Purdue 78-65 on Saturday night.
The Spartans (20-4, 9-2 Big Ten) have won three straight, nine of their last 10, four of their last five on the road in conference play and will retain at least a share of the league lead – regardless of what happens Sunday when No. 1 Indiana visits No. 10 Ohio State.
Purdue (12-12, 5-6) was led by Terone Johnson with 20 points and Ronnie Johnson with 15, but couldn’t avoid losing for the fourth time in five games or for the fifth straight time in the series.
Coming into the game, there were questions about how healthy Michigan State would be after Wednesday night’s physical struggle against No. 18 Minnesota.
Appling left that game when his right shoulder popped out and then back in, Adreian Payne missed part of the second half with a bloody nose, Gary Harris (back) and Branden Dawson (sprained right ankle) played through the pain, and Travis Trice sat out with a head injury. Trice was the only one who sat out at Purdue.
There were even more concerns when Payne, Harris and Appling all wound up on the bench after each was called for a third foul a little more than five minutes into the second half Saturday.
But neither the injuries nor the foul trouble slowed down coach Tom Izzo’s team.
After taking a 31-23 halftime lead, Michigan State opened the second half on a 12-5 run to extend the lead to 43-28 with 15:46 to play.
Purdue fought back, trimming the lead to 51-40 when Sandi Marcius posted up for a layup with 10:55 to go.
Then, with Harris and Payne on the bench again after drawing their fourth fouls, Appling scored seven points in a 9-2 spurt that gave Michigan State a comfortable 62-45 lead with 7:19 remaining.
Purdue couldn’t get closer than 12 the rest of the way.
It was that kind of night for the Boilermakers. Senior D.J. Byrd missed his only shot of the game before fouling out late, the Boilermakers were 22 of 34 from the free throw line and star center A.J. Hammons was just 3 of 8 from the field.
The game began with a cascade of boos for Dawson and Harris, both Indiana natives, but they responded by making the first two baskets in a game the Spartans trailed only once – at 8-7.
Twice in the first half, it looked as if Michigan State would blow out the Boilermakers.
The first time came when Michigan State used a 7-0 run to take an 18-10 lead, forcing Purdue to call a timeout with 11:43 left in the first half. A few minutes later, the Spartans scored six straight points to make it 31-18 with 3:02 to go.
But Purdue charged back, scoring five straight points before missing an opportunity to pull within six when Terone Johnson turned over the ball on the final possession of the first half.
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