For two games decided by a combined 39 points, MSU’s dates with Purdue last season were surprisingly interesting and memorable …
Branden Dawson’s controversial exchange with Boilermakers coach Matt Painter, Purdue’s travel woes in getting to East Lansing, Robbie Hummell’s O-for-11 shooting night, and then, in the rematch, more Dawson, who windmill dunked in the face of the Purdue student section — a group that booed him vigorously the entire game — for two of his 15 points.
The Gary, Ind., product, heavily recruited by Painter, finished with 29 points altogether in those two games.
In the first meeting, there were conflicting stories about what Dawson said near the Purdue bench after a Boilermakers’ turnover. Whatever it was, Painter didn’t like it and said so afterward.
It was probably overblown, but not by the media. Painter was the one who made a big deal about it in the postgame press conference.
Here’s guessing there’s no such sideshow moment between Dawson and Painter today.
Maybe Spartan freshman Gary Harris, a lifelong Purdue fan, will be the emotional catalyst instead.
Whatever the secondary story lines today, I don’t see this as being a close game. It took a complete Illinois collapse for Purdue to win its Big Ten opener at home and a better Boilermakers team last season didn’t match up with the Spartans’ athletes, especially on the road.
It’s important for MSU that it sets the tone today for the Breslin Center being a brutal place for visiting teams during this conference season.