February 16, 1999
By HARRY ATKINS
AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Every game, it seems like Michigan State finds a new hero. Tuesday night, it was Jason Klein's turn.
Klein scored 22 points in an 82-69 victory over No. 17 Purdue as the fourth-ranked Spartans inched closer to the Big Ten title while extending their school-record winning streak to 12 games.
"He's learned how to play," Purdue coach Gene Keady said. "He's a warrior now. It's good to see kids do that."
Klein, who had only eight points at halftime, made seven of 10 field goal attempts, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
"I think that's what happens when a good player's playing good," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "The last two games, he didn't shoot a lot. It really helps if we have guys shooting off both wings."
The Spartans (23-4, 12-1) can clinch at least a share of the regular-season championship with a win Thursday night when they visit Michigan. Last year, a late season loss to Purdue forced the Spartans to share the championship with Illinois.
If Ohio State should lose at Indiana on Wednesday night, Michigan State could win the title outright at Michigan.
Any hopes the Boilermakers (18-8, 6-6) had of an upset this time were dashed almost single-handedly by Klein.
The Spartans, with a 12-point halftime lead, fed the ball to Klein and he scored Michigan State's first 11 points in a spectacular one-man burst to open the second half. He capped the run with successive 3-pointers, sending the Breslin Center crowd of 14,659 into a frenzy.
"I knew I was getting shots early in the game, and it kind of got away from me a little bit," Klein said. "Then, at the start of the second half, I kind of got on a little roll.
"That second 3-pointer, hearing the crowd get into it then, that was great. We could really feed off that. That was quite a feeling."
The Boilermakers went the first 5:31 of the second half before they made their first field goal - a layup by Mike Robinson, who finished with 12 points.
"We told our kids all week, He's a great shooter. Don't leave him,"' Keady said. "Probably the inability to listen is one of the weaknesses of our team. But, hey, he was open and he made them. We've have a lot of guys open this year, and we haven't made them."
A jumper by Morris Peterson gave Michigan State its biggest lead, 54-31 with 14:59 remaining.
Purdue's Brian Cardinal scored the game's first basket on a jumper, but the Boilermakers never led again.
Jaraan Cornell, who scored 21 points for Purdue, tied it 13-13 with a 3-pointer with 11:21 left, but Klein hit a 3-pointer in a 17-5 run that put the Spartans ahead 30-18 with 4:14 left in the half.
"The first part of the game, we didn't get into it," Keady said. "We didn't get on the floor and get after loose balls.
"The game was won in the first half because they they got on the floor and got the loose balls and we didn't."
The Boilermakers made only 12 of 31 field goal attempts in the first half. They weren't taking bad shots, but time after time Purdue shots were rimming the basket. At least three shots went in and spun back out for the Boilermakers, who trailed 39-27 at halftime.
"We like to get that early lead and get the crowd into it," said Charlie Bell, who had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Spartans. "After that, everybody gets their confidence up.
"When that happens, you can just see it in the other team's eyes. It's
like, Oh, no, here they go.' And we just try to feed off of that.