A win Sunday would be the Boilermakers' first Big Ten Tournament championship since 2009, when Purdue great Robbie Hummel won the tournament's MVP. Saturday marked eight straight victories as MI climbs the seed-line ladder here en route to a Sunday afternoon championship game appearance against Purdue. They still have multiple weapons on offense too, from Wagner's inside-out proficiency, to Charles Matthews' slashing ability, to Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson bombing away from behind the arc. Cassius Winston was the only other player in double figures for Sparty with 17 points to go along with five boards and five assists. Miles Bridges led Michigan State with 20 points. Jaren Jackson Jr. added 13 and Cassius Winston had 11, but they only crossed into double figures with the MI band revving the Maize and Blue faithful at Madison Square Garden with yet another version of "Hail To The Victors". "We have NCAA Tournament talent".
MI trailed 29-26 at the half, but used a 10-2 burst to open the second half and take a 36-31 lead it never lost. Wagner got going and the Wolverines lit up the Spartans' defense, hitting 12 of 18 shots from the field and making 20 of 27 free throws in the final 20 minutes.
Junior guard Matt McQuaid hit two 3-pointers within the last four minutes of Saturday's contest. However, Abdur-Rahkman and Simpson sandwiched layups around a missed jumper by Bridges to ignite a 7-2 spurt that Robinson capped with two free throws for a 57-49 edge with 5:23 left. "We didn't come here to beat Michigan State".
With 1:10 remaining in the game, the fifth-year senior forward curled around Tum Tum Nairn Jr. for an and-one layup to bring Michigan's lead over Michigan State to 10.
Purdue, the conference's No. 1 seed, secured its place in the conference title game with a 78-70 win over Penn State Saturday evening.More news: Gov. Scott Pushes $500 Million School Security Plan In Tampa
Through Purdue's first two games at Madison Square Garden - both victories to advance to the tournament's championship game against MI (4:30 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS) - Edwards scored 26 and 27 points, respectively. Purdue vs MI tv channel schedule is on CBS.
Garner led all scorers with 33 points but the Boilermakers maintained control throughout the second half.
"We've got a goal of winning the Big Ten championship", Pearson said.
As semis go, this one had all the chippy we could've asked for with two in-state brethren, at least early on.
Michigan State closed the first half on a 7-1 run and took a 29-26 lead into the half, but Ward was a non-factor the rest of the way.More news: Venezuela Pushes Back Presidential Vote to Late May
He made back-to-back 3s to make it 74-56 with 3:41 left and Purdue was on its way to play for the title.
The selection committee will note that Penn State won this game on a neutral court without Mike Watkins. The sophomore faced an array of defenders, including the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Nojel Eastern, 5-10 P.J.
"I think the Big Ten has finally got to the point where we thought it would be when it started", MI coach Mel Pearson said.
"I thought it was better than expected", said former Duke star Grant Hill, who called the semifinals on CBS.
MI did all the things Tom Izzo teams made famous in March to a Tom Izzo team in March - snapping Sparty's 13-game winning streak and reaching the Big Ten tourney championship game for a second straight season. Isaac Haas stood in the center of the Purdue defense, keeping the Lions from driving. The Nittany Lions led much of the way, but Edwards made a 3 for Purdue with 2 seconds left in the half to send the Boilermakers to the break ahead 33-31.More news: Samsung Galaxy S9 Has the Best Smartphone Camera, Too
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