Denzel Valentine has flirted with a triple-double in both of Michigan State’s wins in the Big Ten tournament, but it was A.J. Hammons’ near-miss at the feat last month that made the biggest difference in a Purdue victory. Hammons and his 13th-ranked Boilermakers eye for a repeat of that overtime win Sunday when they square off in the championship game against Valentine and his third-ranked Spartans in Indianapolis.
Valentine tallied 27 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists against Purdue on Feb. 9, but Hammons’ 19 points, 13 boards and career-high tying eight blocks proved to be just enough in an 82-81 home triumph in which the Boilermakers won despite blowing an 18-point second-half advantage. Hammons was nearly as dominant in Saturday’s 76-59 semifinal win over Michigan, finishing with 27 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks for the fourth-seeded Boilermakers, who have won their two tournament games by an average of 24 points. No. 2 seed Michigan State was pushed to the limit later Saturday as it made its way to the conference title game for the third straight season, edging Maryland 64-61. Valentine has done nothing to damage his candidacy for national player of the year honors over two games in Indianapolis, averaging 18.5 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
TV: 3 p.m. ET, CBS
Purdue – 26-7 SU, 17-11-1 ATS, 15-14 O/U
Michigan St – 28-5 SU, 22-10 ATS, 16-16 O/U
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Purdue Boilermakers (-13.99) – Michigan St Spartans (-17) = Michigan St -3.01
ABOUT PURDUE (26-7): Hammons (15.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 blocks) has scored in double figures in 14 straight outings and became the only the third player in school history to amass 900 career rebounds Saturday while also moving within 14 blocks of breaking Joe Barry Carroll’s school mark (349). Fellow senior and defensive stopper Rapheal Davis tied a career high with 24 points in the Boilermakers’ lone head-to-head meeting with Michigan State and is three points shy of becoming the eighth player in school history with 1,000 career points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists. Purdue has shot at least 50 percent from the field in six straight games, converting 56.4 of their field goals and 45.9 percent of its 3-point attempts over that span.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (28-5): Valentine (19.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.6 assists) is averaging 21.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 8.8 assists during the Spartans’ last 13 games (12-1) and is almost certain to become the first player to average 19 points, seven assists and seven boards since the NCAA began tracking assists in 1983-84. Bryn Forbes (14.6 points) drilled a Big Ten-record 11 3-pointers en route to a career-high 33 points in Michigan State’s penultimate regular-season game, but the nation’s top long-distance shooter is only 4-of-17 from long-range and has totaled 27 points over his last three outings. Michigan State is 25-of-29 from the foul line in Indianapolis, although Valentine (8-of-9) and Matt Costello (6-of-6) were the only Spartans to attempt a foul shot Saturday.
DANCE TEAM WAR:
* Boilermakers are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
* Spartans are 12-1 ATS in their last 13 vs. Big Ten.
* Over is 7-0 in Boilermakers last 7 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
* Over is 7-0 in the last 7 meetings.