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Jackson provides spark -- again

By now, Lewis Jackson's ability to take control for No. 8 Purdue shouldn't be surprising.

He's consistently been guiding the Boilermakers from his point guard spot for most of the season and has picked up his scoring contributions in Big Ten play.

It's even, finally, earned him some love from teammates.

"The younger guys joke with me -- and JaJaun and E'Twaun have kind of told me -- that I'm officially part of the big three," Jackson said after the Boilermakers' 67-47 victory over Michigan State on Sunday in East Lansing.

"I just tell the guys I'm still the same point guard, just trying to help the team get a win. If I'm in there, I feel good to be accomplishing it, but there's a lot more I want to do to help this team win."

The third guy to go with Johnson and Moore has always been Robbie Hummel. Hummel is out this season with a knee injury.

But Jackson hasn't just filled the spot. He's excelled.

Jackson is averaging 10.4 points in Big Ten play -- his career league average is 6.6 points.

He has nearly a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio (65 assists, 35 turnovers) in league play.

He brings intensity and toughness on defense to every assignment.

He's been a vocal leader, spurring teammates on during practices, games and in the locker room.

And his decision-making has been nearly flawless in all areas.

That was on display Sunday.

When Michigan State pulled within 42-33 with 12:02 left, it was Jackson who sparked three consecutive transition baskets for the Boilermakers that quickly pushed the lead back out.

He led the break on all three occasions.

The first, he converted on his own. The second, after he got a defensive rebound, he delivered to Johnson for a dunk. The third, after a steal by Ryne Smith, he dropped off for Moore on the break for an easy basket.

"It was great," Jackson said of the spurt. "It really helped my confidence but especially the team's confidence because we got easy things."

Jackson scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half.

"The first half, I always try and make sure everybody gets the ball, gets good shots and if I can get a layup here and there, (I) try and get a good shot," he said. "In the second half, I just kind of looked to be more aggressive. My teammates told me, 'You get open, shoot the ball or look to attack.' "

  • When asked which meant more -- 17 rebounds or seven blocks -- Johnson said the rebounding total because it was a career high. Technically, those seven blocks tied a career high.
  • Walkon Dru Anthrop has played only 17 minutes this season, but he has an important job.

    "I just tell him to keep me going on the rebounding," Johnson said. "I tell him, 'If you've got to yell at me, just yell at me.' That's what me and Dru do, just keep me going."

  • On Johnson's birthday earlier in the month -- the same day Purdue played Indiana at home -- Jackson said he would have given Johnson "breakfast, lunch and dinner" and been his chauffeur for a day if Johnson reached his career high in rebounds. That "friendly gesture," as Jackson called it, was pulled after that game, Jackson said Sunday.

    "We're very proud of him to come here, especially, break his career highs," Jackson said. "We might all just hang out (Sunday night), eat dinner."