That four-point play appeared innocuous, a footnote in what looked like a blowout first Big Ten loss for No. 6 Michigan State basketball.
But that basket by Winston, who got caught flat-footed on defense in the first half, shook the Spartans out of a funk.
All of a sudden, MSU looked more like the team that rallied at Iowa than the one that appeared lackadaisical and entirely out of sorts in Sunday’s first half. A 23-point Purdue lead all but evaporated to 4.
But the Boilermakers took advantage of Tom Izzo’s strategy to foul Nojel Eastern, who made six straight free throws to help end MSU’s 13-game win streak with a 73-63 victory.
The loss snapped the Spartans’ 21-game regular-season conference win streak. MSU had not lost in Big Ten play since falling to Michigan on Jan. 13, 2018, and hadn’t dropped one on the road in the league since Jan. 7, 2018, at Ohio State.
Winston led MSU with 23 points and had eight assists and seven rebounds. Matt McQuaid had 12 points, the only other Spartan to score in double figures.
MSU (18-3, 9-1 Big Ten) has five days off before hosting Indiana on Saturday.
The tired Spartans put on a hazy first-half showing at the end of a long, short-handed month of basketball that included a bevy of road games and a three games in seven days. And from the opening tip, they struggled to match Purdue’s intensity inside of loud Mackey Arena.
The Boilermakers (14-6, 7-2) raced out to a 9-2 lead despite missing 6 of 8 shots to open the game. They did so by dominating MSU on the boards and capitalizing at the free-throw line, where the Spartans had trouble getting to all game.
It was the first time MSU was held under 20 points in a half since Dec. 30, 2014, against Maryland (14 points). The Spartans recovered in that one and lost in double overtime.
Unlike that game, or like Thursday at Iowa (down 4 at halftime) or last year at Northwestern (down 27), there was no recovering.
The Boilermakers extended their lead to 22 points early in the second half by hitting 3-pointers on three straight possessions. They made 12 in the game.
Purdue led by as many as 23 points with 13:14 to play and looked as energized as the Spartans looked tired.
Then Winston hit that 3-pointer and got fouled by Sasha Stefanovic. Then in transition, Winston set up an Aaron Henry layup and then hit another 3-pointer.
Winston sets up Xavier Tillman for a layup, then the sophomore big man got a putback three-point play before a third Winston 3. The Spartans’ 19-2 run over a 5-minute span cut the deficit to 57-51 on McQuaid’s layup with 6:44 to play.
It was 60-56 when Carsen Edwards drew McQuaid into a foul and made three free throws. Purdue closed the game on a 13-7 run from there to win its fifth straight since losing at MSU on Jan. 8.
MSU had no trouble getting open looks. Getting them to fall was another story.
The Spartans shot 39 percent for the game, including 35 percent from deep. They made just 7 of 31 shots and missed 11 of 14 3-point attempts in the first half in falling behind by 18.
Many of those missed attempts came up short, a sign of tired legs for a team playing without wings Joshua Langford (left foot) for the 10th straight game and Kyle Ahrens, who sat out Sunday with a back injury he re-aggravated Thursday at Iowa.
MSU played three games in six days, two of them on the road. The Spartans also had four of their last five games away from East Lansing.
Despite holding Big Ten-leading scorer Edwards to just three first-half points on one basket, the Spartans’ defenders struggled guarding Purdue’s other perimeter players.
Reserve guard Aaron Wheeler made all three of his 3-point attempts in the first half, and Hunter drained one of the Boilermakers’ seven early 3-pointers with 16 seconds left to send them into halftime with a 37-19 lead.
Purdue opened the game 5-for-15 but made 8 of its final 18 shots.
The Boilermakers had five players score in double figures. Ryan Cline scored 17 points and Edwards finished with 14. Eastern added 12 points and 11 rebounds.