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3 points: Purdue Boilermakers holds on to start the tournament and gets to the semifinals

Sports3 points: Purdue Boilermakers holds on to start the tournament and gets to the semifinals

Purdue Boilermakers gave supporters yet another nerve-wracking start to March when they began postseason action. The Spartans tied the game with two minutes remaining after the Boilers had once taken a double-digit lead in the second half owing to cold shooting and mistakes.

At the Target Center on Friday, No. 1 seed Purdue Boilermakers (29-3) defeated eighth-seeded Michigan State (19-14) 67-62 to progress to the semifinals, where they will take on the winner of Wisconsin and Northwestern on Saturday.

The three points from the clash are as follows:

A foul-filled game

Both sides had many players in foul trouble throughout the game on Friday, making it an intense matchup. Two key players for the Spartans were involved in foul trouble early in the first half: sophomore forward Jaxon Kohler and senior guard Tyson Walker each had three fouls in the first half and did not participate in the second half.

Braden Smith, the sophomore guard for Purdue Boilermakers, was forced to sit out the first half after picking up two early fouls, which meant that Purdue was shorthanded for much of the first half. Without Smith, Purdue’s attack stalled, managing just five points in his six minutes off the court.

The majority of Purdue’s foul trouble was concentrated on the Boilers’ bench, as rookie guard Myles Colvin and sophomore forward Cam Heide each picked up four fouls early in the second half, forcing them to sit out the remainder of the game.

With six minutes remaining in the match, Michigan State’s senior center Mady Sissoko became the first player to exit the game due to a fifth foul. Despite the 46 fouls called in the game, Sissoko was the only player from both teams to foul out. Four other Spartans ended up with four fouls.

Michigan State’s senior guard tandem is the foundation of its offense, and the two struggled early against Purdue, which hurt the Spartans’ backcourt. In the first minute of play, senior guard Tyson Walker scored the game’s first basket with a three-pointer. However, he fouled out and finished the half with just eight points on 28% shooting.

Twenty-two minutes into the game, senior guard AJ Hoggard, his backcourt partner, scored his first basket and finished with just one shot in the first half. Before Hoggard scored with eight minutes remaining in the game, the game went scoreless for a further eleven minutes.

Hoggard only managed 8 points on 29% shooting in the end, while Walker had a greater offensive impact for the Spartans, finishing ahead of Michigan State with 15 points.

Braden Smith is once again in danger of injury

Braden Smith visited the locker room again during the second half of the Spartans game, only one week after being hurt and exiting the game at home against Wisconsin.

The sophomore guard, who was named to the First Team of the Big Ten, was driving to the left side of the hoop when he took a heavy fall onto his right leg, buckling his knee as he went down below the rim while still holding his right knee. Smith applied little pressure on his right leg while he lay down for a considerable amount of time before being taken off the court.

Smith returned to the bench with nine minutes remaining in the game after being observed moving under his own power in the locker room and performing some light exercise. However, Smith didn’t enter the game until 8:30 remained in the second half. Smith ended with eight assists and just five points.

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