NCAA Basketball

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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET12:00 PM GMT8:00 PM 北京时间5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST, Jan 8, 2021
Jack Breslin Student Events Center, East Lansing, Michigan

Aaron Henry has No. 17 Michigan St. on roll; Purdue next

Aaron Henry has emerged as a difference-maker for Michigan State.

It's no coincidence that the Spartans have won their last two games after starting out 0-3 in the Big Ten. Henry carried them to victories over Nebraska and Rutgers by making big plays at both ends of the floor. The 23rd-ranked Spartans can even their conference record with a home win over Purdue on Friday.

Henry scored a career-best 27 points in Michigan State's 84-77 triumph over the host Cornhuskers on Saturday. He followed up that performance with 20 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals in a 68-45 home win over the Scarlet Knights on Tuesday.

"We'll all marvel at his 20 points, (but) the last two games, he's been unbelievable defensively," coach Tom Izzo said. "He got into some people (Tuesday), he knocked some balls loose, it's just his whole demeanor right now. He's even more coachable, not that he hasn't been this year. He's just doing the things he needs to do to become a great player, and he's got a ways to go, but I think that starts it."

The Spartans (8-3, 2-3) went undefeated in nonconference play before their slump. They have regained some of their confidence over the past week.

"I feel like it's important for the leaders, Josh (Langford), Frosty (Foster Loyer) and myself having been here so long and having gone through ups and downs throughout seasons to understand," Henry said.

"We were as low as we can get, I felt like at one point, and it just happened to be on Christmas Day. Just having that type of leadership and being able to respond like that, in a situation like this, it shows a lot. ... I'm just happy that we got the win (Tuesday), and we showed some growth," he added.

That was especially noticeable on the defensive end, as 15th-ranked Rutgers was held to 30.5 percent shooting.

"I thought that was one of our better defensive performances in a couple of years," Izzo said.

Michigan State was far from flawless offensively, committing 18 turnovers, 14 in the first half.

"We think we can clean up some of those things offensively," Izzo said. "And if we can keep our defense, which travels, then we have a chance to take some steps forward."

Purdue (7-5, 2-3) has lost three of its last four games. The Boilermakers haven't played since falling at Illinois 66-58 on Saturday. Their home game against Nebraska on Tuesday was postponed due to coronavirus issues within the Cornhuskers program.

Purdue shot just 39.3 percent against the Illini.

"Just overall execution," coach Matt Painter said. "We have good stretches in the game, and then we have bad stretches. We need to replace our bad stretches with average stretches."

For the season, Purdue is averaging 1.8 more turnovers than its opponents.

"We just go into the tank a little bit when you miss a shot or turn the ball over a couple times," Painter said. "It's just the awareness of, 'Hey, we have to have a good possession here.' We just don't have that."

The Boilermakers have won the last two meetings, both at home, but the Spartans have taken the last two matchups in East Lansing.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 6, 2021

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