EAST LANSING — Massive Purdue big man Zach Edey showed why he could be the Big Ten’s best player.
Diminutive Michigan State basketball guard Tyson Walker showed why he might be the league’s most clutch.
In the end, size mattered.
Edey scored a career high 32 points with 17 rebounds, hitting a layup with 2.2 seconds to play to help the third-ranked Boilermakers escape Breslin Center with a hard-fought 64-63 victory Monday afternoon.
Walker – who beat Purdue last year at Breslin with a step-back 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left for a 68-65 win – appeared to hit the upset-making shot again. The senior guard hunted and pecked his way into the paint in the final 20 seconds, backed out 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 after an MSU timeout pushed the ball up the court quickly and found Edey on the left block, and the 7-foot-4, 305-pound junior delivered a hook shot over Mady Sissoko for the eventual winner.
The Spartans still had another chance after a timeout and inbounded the ball from the baseline under Purdue’s basket. A.J. Hoggard’s long pass to Joey Hauser got tipped out of bounds by the Boilers’ Brandon Newman. Refs reviewed and put 1.8 seconds on the clock, with MSU getting the ball on the left baseline across from its bench.
Walker came off a screen at the top of the key and caught Hoggard’s pass in stride. But Purdue’s Ethan Morton closed on him, and the ball fell short of the rim as 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 foul trouble against the bigger Edey throughout the entire back-and-forth second half.
The Spartans (12-6, 4-3) hosts Rutgers on Thursday (6:30 p.m./FS1).
Edey finished 13 of 26 shooting. 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 lone loss of the season at home to the Scarlet Knights.
News broke before the game of MSU potentially being without Malik Hall (left foot) for another extended absence.
Coach Tom Izzo on his pregame radio show did not specify what Hall’s latest injury is, but he expects the 6-foot-8 senior forward to potentially miss more time after sitting out eight games earlier this season with a stress reaction in his left foot. Hall wore a walking boot when he came out with the team before tipoff.
Whether that affected the Spartans early was hard to tell, particularly because the 7-4 Edey dominated anyone Izzo threw at him defensively. The Purdue junior feasted inside, making seven of his first 14 shots and posting a double-double by halftime with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
But it was a foul call on Mady Sissoko on one of Edey’s rebounds as their arms locked that drew Izzo’s ire. Purdue answered with a bounce 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 timeout with 5:43 to go in the half.
It looked like a knockout blow. But it wasn’t.
The Spartans came out of the timeout, and Walker hit a midpaint floater off a bounce pass in the lane from Jaden Akins. Then Hoggard got deep into he paint, hesitated and scored through a foul on Loyer. The three-point play flipped the energy in Breslin from angry to hopeful.
Hoggard and Walker continued to make plays, with each hitting jumpers to slice a 13-point hole to five. After a pair of Edey free throws, Hoggard again drove into the lane, and the Purdue big man swatted his shot. But MSU freshman center Carson Cooper swooped in to collect the ball and quickly scored a layup before Edey could retreat.
Then with inside 10 seconds left before the break, Hoggard delivered a nasty crossover dribble that sent Purdue’s Ethan Morton sliding across the floor. Another defender switched, and Hoggard flicked the ball to Walker for a 3-pointer. The Spartans went to halftime trailing 27-25 and on a 14-3 run over the final 5:09, holding the Boilers without a field goal over 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 end-of-half surge continued into the second half, as Hauser scored immediately out of the break, followed by a Hoggard 3-pointer and Walker jumper that gave MSU a 32-27 lead – its first since 3:36 into the game at 5-4.
Defensively, the Spartans continued to shut down Edey early. That didn’t last, though. It started with a dunk by the big man, followed by a Loyer 3-pointer that tied it back up at 32-all. Then Edey scored Purdue’s next seven points with two more dunks and a three-point play. The Boilermakers’ 14-5 burst put them back up, 41-37, with 10:36 to go.
Back came MSU with another massive counterpunch, reclaiming the lead on four straight free throws by Walker and Akins, then again on a Hauser jumper after Edey drew Sissoko’s fourth foul and hit a pair of free throws. Score: 48-46 Spartans with 5:53 to play.
Haymakers ensued. By both teams. Many of them coming from Walker, including two 3-pointers and a deep jumper that put MSU ahead 61-60 and prompted Purdue coach Matt Painter to call timeout with 1:31 left.
Eventually, Edey’s height advantage and post presence 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 lose to Zach Edey, Purdue, 64-63, at home