After a historically dreadful opening, the state of Michigan looked like a number 6 in the second half of their game against Purdue on Saturday. The Spartans had suffered a 55-32 loss with just over 13 minutes of regulation time, but ran in the 24-5 to reduce the lead of the Boilermakers to four (60-56). Although Purdue continued to maintain its lead, Michigan State was able to fend off any blow with a big shot. In the end it was 65-60 and the Spartans needed a stop. But after completing her third game in six days and the fourth street game in five days, the team was just too tired to use conventional defense, and decided to spot Purdues worst free-throw shooter on the ground, favoring Michigan State very. Prior to this game, Eastern shot 50 percent of the charity this season – 43 percent for his career – and had already missed the only two free throws he had ever taken in the game. The result of this strategy was a statistical anomaly that could not be worse for the Spartans. In less than a minute, Eastern was fouled three times and made all six of his free throw attempts. That's what it looked like in play-by-play.
This was a massive improvement on his last free throw performance against Michigan State, where he scored 1 to 6.
Purdue's victory was not just about those late-throwing designs. It helped the Boilermakers unbalance their opponents and used an early Spartan slump to cut a 37:19 lead in half. But coach Matt Painter also felt that Eastern's performance on the line was the deciding factor in the game.
"Somehow six or 20 [on the road] sink and they have you exactly where they want you," said Matt Painter, referring to the Spartans' propensity to come back. "You're nervous all the damn time. I was nervous for 30 seconds [remained]. "
" You know, if 19459039 lacks some front ends, you're in a different position and have a different feel, "Painter said.
In addition to this winning feeling, which can only occur if you upset a top-10 opponent in your gym, Painter and the Boilermakers probably also believe the Big 10 are far more open than before. Purdue was written off after the start of season 6 to 5, but now they have shown that they can dominate Michigan State, a team that just a few days ago looked like the best in the country. The rest of the season got a lot more exciting, all because a Purdue player scored more free throws than expected.