EAST LANSING, Mich. — Miles Bridges beelined toward Tom Izzo while cheers swirled throughout the Breslin Center with 2.8 seconds left in a Big Ten instant classic between No. 4 Michigan State and No. 3 Purdue.

Bridges had drained a 3-pointer at the top of the key over Purdue’s Dakota Mathias that gave the Spartans a 68-65 victory moments earlier. He embraced Izzo, who sported a green coat in honor of legendary coach Jud Heathcote, whose life was celebrated at halftime by Michigan State alumni players and coaches.

That's @milesBridges01, from deep, to give @MSU_Basketball the late lead. pic.twitter.com/81MjvcwYZd
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 10, 2018
No. 4 Michigan State (24-3, 12-2) beat No. 3 Purdue (23-4, 12-2) to throw another wrinkle into a heated conference championship race, and the emotions were real. Bridges had some for his coach.

"I said, 'That was one for you,’" Bridges said. "All season he's been taking heat for so much heat for so much stuff. For us to win that game, for him and Coach Heathcote, it's great for both of them."

Izzo would deflect that credit, of course, while trying to put all the emotions at Michigan State together. That's not an easy task in the aftermath of the Larry Nassar scandal, which has torn at the emotions of the university. Athletic director Mark Hollis resigned Jan. 26. An ESPN "Outside the Lines" investigation brought into question how Izzo and football coach Mark Dantonio handled sexual assault allegations, and that's where all those emotions collide.

Izzo is fighting for his reputation while coaching the most recognizable brand at the school. Bridges wanted to honor Izzo, and Izzo wanted to honor Heathcote — all the while spinning back toward the bigger picture at a school trying to move forward together.
"To say this was an emotional day would be an understatement of the world," Izzo said.

For a few hours — with the understanding there's work to do in that world. Izzo is the last person that wants that credit for that moment.
"I hope it wasn’t for me," Izzo said. "I hope it was for, as I've said, our survivors, the people in our community, our school. I hope it was for them. I had a chance to play in many of these over my career, but not many better than today with our crowd."

Izzo honored his mentor Heathcote in a game that brought back all those memories of an old-school battle with Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose mentor Gene Keady showed up for the occasion. Keady joked with Izzo before the game that his second toughest loss was a matchup between the schools in 1989-90, when the Spartans clinched a Big Ten regular-season championship 72-70 win at the Breslin Center on March 11, 1990.
In that regard, it’s fitting Steve Smith, the star player of that team, addressed the crowd at halftime with the Spartans trailing by five points.
"All of us were great teammates," Smith said. "That’s because of the foundation of Jud Heathcote."

Izzo built on that with a national championship in 1999-00 and five Final Four appearances, and from a basketball standpoint this showed that foundation remains solid. There's pressure on this team to be the boss.Michigan State hasn’t won a regular-season Big Ten championship since a three-way tie with Ohio State and Michigan in 2012 — which also is the last time the Spartans won the Big Ten tournament. The Spartans reached the Final Four as a No. 7 seed in 2014-15 then lost 81-61 to Duke in the Final Four. Michigan State hasn't been a No. 1 seed in the Final Four since 2001-02, one year after winning it all as a top seed in 1999-00.

Purdue led for most of the first half while Izzo used an unorthodox strategy. He wanted the Boilermakers to feed 7-2 Isaac Haas in one-on-one matchups. Nick Ward, Gavin Schilling, Kenny Goins and Xavier Tillman took turns on Haas while limiting Purdue’s 3-point shooting. The Boilermakers finished 6 of 19 from 3-point range, and it was around the 10-minute mark when the Breslin Center finally came alive.

Michigan State guard Cassius Winston, who has been involved on-campus with speaking out in support of the victims of the Nassar scandal, let a smile out while guarding P.J. Thompson. Bridges puffed his chest out after a go-ahead jumper, and the "Izzone" danced to another rendition of "Shout" after a Purdue timeout with 8:58. This was a showcase for those Michigan State players who have managed their emotions by winning.

It got loud. Real loud.
Inside the locker room, it's been tight. Real tight. "We've been here for each other," Winston said. "We’re lifting each other up and making sure the motivation is up and nothing can bring you down." The last nine minutes unfolded in a fury, but it would come down to the big man. Haas, who scored 25 points, came up just a little short on a short hook in the lane. Michigan State took a timeout, and Bridges took the opportunity to break the team huddle with one word.

Bridges then dribbled to the top of the key, pulled up and hit a shot that showed what kind of team Michigan State could be for the rest of the season.
"He supposed to drive and get fouled, but if you’re from Flint you say to hell with that and jack a 3," Izzo said. "It worked out. It couldn’t happen to a better kid."

Izzo tried to walk that tight-rope of emotions as best he could, but for one day, he left in the best places he knew how. He empathized with the victims of the scandal and has reiterated he will cooperate with any further investigations into the program.

He reflected on his mentor Heathcote, even looked for him up and down during the aftermath of another classic will Purdue in the Breslin Center. This game is right up there with that classic in 1989-90, and there will be more big games as the Spartans barrel toward the NCAA tournament.
Izzo pointed to a montage that honored Heathcote at halftime and used the former coach's words at the end to sum up his feelings. He asked himself the same question.

"How do you want to be known?" Izzo said. "I want to be known as a guy who did it the right way and a guy who cared about his players. I was thinking, 'How well said?’" Izzo said he thought about that and the opportunities Heathcote gave him, and his players are thinking about him while staying mindful of the on-goings at Michigan State. For 2.8 seconds after Bridges' game-winning shot, the Breslin Center let some of that emotion out.
Where does it go from here?

There's a long way to heal at Michigan State. Everybody still has work to do. There's an NCAA tournament soon, and Bridges can lead this team to a deep tournament run. There's a moment everybody in attendance will remember. This game will be compared to the next big victory. And for a moment, there was a celebration inside that Michigan State locker room for the players. That's who Izzo will always deflect the credit to, just like Heathcote used to do.

"It was like a movie scene," Winston said. "We were all over the place dancing, turning out, and we had the future 'Spartan Dawgs' in here, too. There was a lot of love, and you can tell we care for each other. We love each other. We care for coach."
That's a foundation that still stands at the Breslin Center