No. 9 Michigan State beats Northwestern 85-70 - NBC Sports

No. 9 Michigan State beats Northwestern 85-70
APWF
Michigan State's Adreian Payne (5) goes up for a dunk against Northwestern as Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) watches during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
February 13, 2014, 9:09 pm

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Adreian Payne had 20 points and 14 rebounds, and No. 9 Michigan State cruised past Northwestern 85-70 on Thursday night to stay tied atop the Big Ten.

The Spartans (21-4, 10-2) are even in the standings with rival Michigan - and those two teams meet in Ann Arbor on Feb. 23.

Gary Harris added 14 points for Michigan State, rebounding a bit from a poor shooting performance in a loss to Wisconsin last weekend. The Spartans shot 53 percent from the field against a Northwestern team that came in with a sterling defensive reputation.

The Wildcats (12-13, 5-7) had not allowed 80 points in a game in over a month.

Michigan State was without point guard Keith Appling, who has been bothered by a wrist injury.

JerShon Cobb had 22 points and seven rebounds for Northwestern.

The Wildcats have won road games at Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota this season, and their tough defense has given a number of Big Ten teams problems. But this game started with both teams scoring efficiently through much of the first half.

Michigan State led 39-30 at halftime, then scored the first seven points of the second half. Payne had a dunk and a 3-pointer in that stretch, and although the Wildcats prevented the game from getting totally out of hand, they weren't able to cut their deficit back into single digits.

It was an 11-point game when Denzel Valentine and Harris made back-to-back 3-pointers to give Michigan State a 77-60 lead. Valentine finished with a career-high 16 points, along with six assists and five rebounds.

Travis Trice had 11 points and six assists, helping the Spartans withstand Appling's absence.

Harris went 3 of 20 in the loss to Wisconsin, but he scored seven points in the first half of this game and had plenty of help. Michigan State had nine offensive rebounds in the first half and shot 62 percent from the field in the second to pull away.

Michigan State beat Northwestern 54-40 on Jan. 15, but this was a much higher-scoring game. Cobb made five 3-pointers, and Drew Crawford and Tre Demps scored 18 points each for the Wildcats. Crawford also had seven assists.

But only two other Northwestern players scored.

The Spartans shot 11 of 21 from 3-point range, with Trice and Valentine making three each from beyond the arc. Michigan State turned the ball over only seven times.

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