Michigan State hoisting a Big Ten men’s basketball tournament championship trophy? It seems like old hat by now, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, from 2001-2011 the Spartans were just 9-11 in B1G tourney play and appeared in exactly zero title games.
Since 2012 though, MSU has owned the Big Ten tournament and on Sunday it took down the Purdue Boilermakers, 66-62, to hoist their third title in five seasons.
It did so on the strength of Big Ten Player of the Year Denzel Valentine as well. He did it all when his team needed it most — pouring in 15 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists for a near triple-double.
Purdue tried hard to counter, but Vince Edward’s game-high 19 points weren’t enough to overcome a Spartans team that had 10 players register points in the final.
Winning the battle of the boards was also going to be key in this one, and just like the final score the narrow edge went to the Spartans — leading on the defensive boards 29-24 and 41-31 overall.
After leading by as many as 13 points early in the second half, Michigan State found itself in an unexpected battle down the stretch. Purdue countered almost immediately after going down 13 points, going on an 11-2 run to put themselves within just four points.
MSU would respond back by running its lead to 52-44 with 8:20 to play, but the game was not over by a long shot. Five straight points from Hill and an overall 7-0 run got the Boilers to within a point at 52-51 with 7:47 to play.
Purdue just simply couldn’t get over the hump, and never would get a lead in the second half despite also getting within a point in the final three minutes of the game.
Instead, Michigan State’s defense clamped down and Purdue’s offense got out of sync in a major way.
As it stood, Michigan State won its fifth Big Ten tournament title and top the list with the most tournament championships in conference history. It just wasn’t enough for the NCAA tournament committee though, as they were left out of the No. 1 seeds as the selection show began.