Two games, four points, two losses. Two games which came down to the final possession. Two losses were the worst case scenario for Purdue this week. The Boilermakers now have work to do to get back into the No. 1 seed conversation.
Wednesday night, the Boilers had to feel like they let one get away from them. They didn’t play particularly well and they let a 14 point lead slip away. Saturday’s game felt different.
Purdue again suffered a close loss in a game it could have won. Saturday’s contest in East Lansing felt like a heavyweight fight. The Spartans and the Boilermakers went back and forth throughout the second half. Purdue led by five at the half, but the Spartans fought back to claim a four-point lead late in the game.
The Boilermakers on the back of Isaac Haas, who scored 25 points, countered and took a two-point lead with 1:06 remaining. Once again, it was the unexpected contribution that hurt Purdue. Kenny Goins, a valuable defender and rebounder, hit an eighteen-foot jump shot to tie the game. Purdue once again went to Haas who came up just short on a hook shot in the middle of the lane.
With 20 seconds remaining, the stage was set for Miles Bridges. Bridges got the ball after a Michigan State timeout, was well defended by Dakota Mathias, stepped up and knocked down a 26-foot three-pointer with a hand in his face. Bridges made an All-American play to lift the Spartans over the Boilermakers 68-65.
This was a tough loss, but despite what some Purdue fans may be feeling, the sky is not falling. Purdue’s four remaining Big Ten games are all games, while nothing is guaranteed, the Boilermakers should win. Then, the Big Ten Tournament gives Purdue the opportunity to play its way back into the No. 1 seed conversation.
Purdue plays next at Wisconsin on Thursday at 7:00 PM