It's hard when a 17-point game is considered the game of the night, but truly that's the case. Let's take a look at the two Big Ten games from last night.
Game of the Night: Purdue Boilermakers 87, Michigan Wolverines 70
It's the game of the night because Michigan was competitive for a large portion of the first half, and led for a lot of it. The Wolverines also didn't go away in the second half, and were within 5-6 points at certain points.
But, Michigan entered the game banged up; earlier in the day, Coach Jim Belein indicated that Caris LeVert would play if he practiced without pain. Suffering from a lower leg injury, LeVert was not able to clear that hurdle, so Michigan entered a challenging environment not at full strength. Not to take anything from Purdue. The Boilermakers solidly beat a hot Michigan team. (The Wolverines had won six in a row.) And Purdue had just experienced a particularly difficult home loss to Iowa.
Purdue used a 16-3 run to close the second half, and take a 35-28 lead into halftime. To that point, Michigan had been hanging tough, and leading for several minutes of the first half. However, the run gave Purdue a lead it would never relinquish, and the Boilermaker defense stymied Michigan, holding them to 32 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes. Michigan's defensive effort, however, was unable to impact Purdue's size. The trio of Caleb Swanigan, A.J. Hammons and Isaac Hayes shot 13-for-20, and Purdue overall was just over 55 percent. Purdue's efficient offense most likely had something to do with them sharing the ball effectively; they had 26 assists (Michigan just 10) and scored 52 points in the second half.
Purdue had four guys in double-figures. Hammons leading all scorers with 17 points (including 7-of-10 from the field). Michigan got a great performance from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who shot 10-of-16 from the field and finished with 26 points.
Poor Illinois was just overmatched against the Spartans. Missing Kendrick Nunn for personal reasons, Malcolm Hill was really their only firepower, but he picked up two early fouls and only scored two points in the first half. (In fact, Illinois had three freshman on the floor at one point, just an indication of their youth and inexperience.) The score was 47-22 at the half, and Illinois were really never in the game.
Michigan State pushed the tempo early with Lourawls Nairn getting the team in transition. Illinois really had no defensive answer for Michigan State's transition game, and struggled to guard the three point line.
Meanwhile, Illinois shot a poor 30 percent from the floor, and were out rebounded 46-27. Maverick Morgan and Malcolm Hill finished with 15 and 10 points respectively. Michigan State had four players in double-figures, led by Bryn Forbes who scored 17 points.
Tom Izzo, probably isn't pleased with the last four games, but considering the circumstances (no Denzel Valentine), maybe he should be. Oakland played extremely tough, and so did Minnesota for stretches, but the Spartans finished 3-1 without their star. Now perhaps he'll return, and Michigan State can continue their conference schedule operating at full strength.