EAST LANSING — It was another dynamic defensive performance as Michigan State basketball built a big lead on Purdue.
Then the Spartans’ shots stopped falling. Their 17-point lead early in the second half vanished.
And so did the game.
MSU’s defense collapsed down the stretch, particularly against Trevion Williams. The Boilermakers’ big man scored eight of their final 10 points in the final 3:19, hitting a hook shot with 4.5 seconds left that gave Purdue a stunning 55-54 comeback win Friday night at Breslin Center.
Aaron Henry, whose three points in the closing minute gave MSU a four-point lead, missed a driving attempt as time expired. The Boilermakers (8-5, 3-3 Big Ten) celebrated at midcourt at the Spartans (8-4, 2-4) trudged back to their locker room bewildered by what happened.
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Michigan State Spartans guard Rocket Watts scores against Purdue Boilermakers guard Jaden Ivey and center Zach Edey during the first half at Breslin Center in East Lansing, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.
Williams, a 6-foot-10 junior who played at Detroit Henry Ford Academy, scored a game high 26 points on 9 of 14 shooting, making 8 of 12 at the line and grabbing nine rebounds. He was the only Purdue player in double figures, as the Boilermakers overcame 3 of 24 shooting from 3-point range and 33.9% overall for the game.
Henry scored 13 points, making 3 of 8 shots with seven rebounds. The Spartans shot 22.2% after building a 31-16 halftime lead, and turned the ball over 10 times in the second half. Joshua Langford added 10 points on 4 of 11 shooting.
MSU is off until traveling to No. 7 Iowa on Thursday (9 p.m., FS1).
The Spartans’ defense shined again to open the game, holding the Boilermakers to 16 points and 26.1% shooting in building a 15-point halftime cushion. MSU held Purdue without a 3-point basket in 12 first-half attempts.
The Boilermakers entered making 37.9% from behind the arc. In the Spartans’ first four Big Ten games, opponents made 39.3% from 3-point range against their defense before holding Rutgers to 3 of 12 from deep and 30.5% overall in Tuesday’s 68-45 win.
The Spartans got all-around performances with eight of the 12 players who played scoring. MSU made 52.2% of its in the half, then opened the second with a Langford jumper to stretch an 11-0 run across the halves.
Purdue countered with seven straight, including its first 3-pointer of the game from Aaron Wheeler. But the Spartans stretched it back to 12 on a dunk by Julius Marble after a driving bounce pass from Henry.
That basket was significant, because it would be the last MSU made for 12 minutes and 1 second. In between, the Boilermakers went on a 19-12 run – all of the Spartans’ points came at the free-throw line in a physical final period.
After Purdue tied it 43-all on Brandon Newman’s layup with 6:20 to play, a free throw and then a 3-pointer from Joey Hauser with 3:42 put MSU ahead by five.
The Boilermakers got it back to a one-point game on a pair of Williams free throws with 1:21 left.
Henry answered by slicing into the lane and hit his jumper, before getting a steal and drawing a foul with 19.1 seconds left, making 1 of 2 to give MSU a 54-50 lead.
But Watts fouled Hunter with 11.9 seconds left, then got knocked to the ground for a turnover with 11.6 to play on the ensuing inbound pass near Purdue’s basket.
MSU fouled Williams, who made 1 of 2 free throws, with 9.8 seconds left. But a loose ball tie-up between Hauser and Hunter remained with the Boilermakers. Matt Painter called timeout with 6.4 left and the ball found its way on the inbound pass to Williams for the game-winner in the post over Hauser.
Contact Chris Solari: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball blows lead and is stunned by Purdue, 55-54