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Big Ten Insider: Hummel’s ACL injury shakes up Big Ten

Jonah L. Rosenblum

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For almost 26-and-a-half games, it looked like Purdue’s year. The Boilermakers were 23-3, the first-place team in the Big Ten, ranked No. 3 in the nation and up 26-14 at Minnesota. But with 7:11 remaining in the first half, junior forward Robbie Hummel awkwardly planted his right leg while driving to the hoop, tearing his right ACL. Just like that, Purdue lost one of its best players for the remainder of the season.

No. 7 Purdue (24-4, 12-4 Big Ten) showed immediately it can still win without Hummel. After he went down, the Boilermakers came back from a nine-point deficit in the second half to beat the Gophers 59-58.

“Our guys just battled back and made some huge plays,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “I was proud of our guys and the way they played down the stretch.”

Purdue was less successful at home against No. 11 Michigan State. The Boilermakers led 28-26 at halftime but scored just 16 points after intermission, falling 53-44 to the Spartans.

Michigan State pounded Purdue on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 46-20.

“They manhandled us,” Painter said. “They outrebounded us by 26, which is really unacceptable. We had some guys not pursue the basketball.”

After Michigan State snapped its 10-game winning streak, Purdue looks to get back on track against Indiana and Penn State. The Hoosiers and Nittany Lions are both 3-13 in conference play, and they both lost to the Boilermakers earlier this season.

“We miss Rob in all phases of the game, but we still could have won our last game without him,” Painter said. “We have to not make excuses or use a crutch for Rob being out. We have to man up and get the job done.”

SPARTANS HAVE SHOT AT TITLE

On the other side of the court, the Spartans’ win put them in a second-place tie with the Boilermakers, just a half-game behind Big Ten leader Ohio State.

“Our defense and our rebounding was some of the best we’ve played all year,” Izzo said, “which is good to do as you head into March, when every game is pretty much one-and-done.”

If the Spartans win out, they will emerge with at least a share of the Big Ten regular season championship, as the Buckeyes play just one more game and the Boilermakers have two to go.

The Spartans will look to cut down on turnovers in their final two games of the regular season. Against Purdue, Michigan State turned the ball over 23 times, continuing a disturbing trend this season. The Spartans have committed more turnovers than every other Big Ten team except last-place Indiana.

“Our turnovers yesterday were borderline ridiculous,” Izzo said. “We’ve had a couple games like that throughout the year. We’ve really cleaned up our turnovers over the last six or seven games, but it reared its ugly head again.”

jonahrosenblum2012@u.northwestern.edu

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