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Michigan State men’s basketball suffers first Big Ten loss of the 2021-2022 season against Northwestern

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The loss also ended the Spartans’ nine-game winning streak.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Michigan State Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 10 Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team went back to work at the Breslin Center for a Saturday matinee against the Northwestern Wildcats. It did not go the Spartans’ way, however, as MSU ended its winning streak at nine games after being defeated by NU by a final score a 64 to 62.

Northwestern was without its leading scorer, Pete Nance, who averages 17.1 points per game, while Michigan State added two new faces to its bench in football players Keon Coleman and Maliq Carr (neither saw game action on Saturday).

Michigan State would get off to a slow start in this contest. It took nearly two minutes into gameplay before either team scored a basket, with forward Gabe Brown getting a bucket for Michigan State. After that, Northwestern went on a 12-2 run and led by eight points with 14:20 left in the first half.

MSU would then go on a small run of its own, scoring seven-straight points, as a jumper by point guard A.J. Hoggard, a three-pointer by forward Malik Hall and and a jumper by freshman shooting guard Max Christie after an offensive rebound cut NU’s lead to just one point at 12-11.

Northwestern center Ryan Young responded with a two-point basket off of his own offensive rebound. On the next possession for the Wildcats, however, Brown stole the ball and then made a deep three-pointer as the shot clock was winding down at the other end.

After Young split a pair of free throws for the Wildcats, Brown hit another shot from behind the arc on MSU’s next possession, and then center Mady Sissoko added two points after that to give the Spartans a 15-3 run and a 19-15 lead with 8:30 left to play in the first half.

The Wildcats responded with back-to-back three-pointers, however, by forward Robbie Beran and guard Chase Audige. After freshman guard/forward Pierre Brooks II hit a pair of free throws for the Spartans, guard Boo Buie hit another three-pointer for Northwestern. Point guard Tyson Walker added a layup for the Spartans at the other end, and NU lead 24-23 with 6:50 to play in the opening half.

The teams would then trade baskets for the next several minutes, which included a two-point basket from Detroit native and Northwestern guard Julian Roper II, a fast-break score from Michigan State center Julius Marble, a three-pointer from Audige and a three-pointer from Hall. After all of that, Michigan State had a 29-28 lead with 5:30 to play.

Northwestern would end the first half on a 10-4 run, which included another three-pointer from Buie. The Wildcats led the Spartans 38-33 at halftime.

Turnovers were once again an issue for Michigan State in the first half, as the Spartans gave the ball away 12 times in the first 20 minutes (compared to just six for Northwestern). NU was also hot from three-point range, hitting on seven of its 13 shots from deep (53.8 percent).

The second half saw less scoring, but was closely-contested throughout. The Spartans opened the half with a quick 5-0 run off of a three-pointer from Brown and a two-pointer from Marble.

Michigan State outscored Northwestern 11-8, which included a three-pointer from forward Joey Hauser (his only made field goal of the game), by the under-16-minute media timeout. NU held a slim 46-44 lead with 14:10 left to play.

MSU then scored six-straight points, thanks to a pair of free throws from Christie and two layups from Marble, which gave the Spartans a 50-46 lead. Northwestern then scored the next six points to regain the lead at 52-50 with 7:05 left to play.

The teams then continued to trade points, which included a three-pointer by Northwestern’s Audige and a four-point play for Michigan State’s Hall, after he hit a three-pointer from the corner despite being fouled and made the free throw as well.

At the under-four-minute media timeout, NU led 57-56. After the break, Young hit two free throws for the Wildcats and then added a layup and free throw to extend his team’s lead to six points at 62-56 with 2:43 to play.

Two free throws from Christie and a bucket from Marble cut Northwestern’s advantage to two points, but Buie made a pair of free throws of his own at the other end. Northwestern led 64-60 with 1:13 to play before Marble hit both of his free throws to once again trim NU’s lead to two points at 64-62 with the less than one minute to play.

Neither team would score again. With 13 seconds to play, Marble lost the ball, but a held ball was called and the possession arrow was in Michigan State’s favor. The Spartans would get another chance, but Hall missed a three-pointer that would have given MSU the lead. However, a traveling violation was called on the Wildcats after the rebound.

Michigan State got the ball back with just a single second left on the clock. Center Marcus Bingham Jr. drew the foul on the inbound play and went to the free-throw line for a one-and-one attempt from the charity stripe. Bingham would miss and the game ended with Northwestern holding on for the victory.

Marble led the Spartans with a career-high 18 points. Brown and Hall added 10 points each. Young led the Wildcats with 18 points, while Audige had 14 and Buie had 12, respectively.

Michigan State shot 43 percent from the field overall (22-for-51), but just 29 percent from three-point range (6-for-21). Northwestern shot just 35 percent overall (23-for-66) and 31 percent from deep (8-for-26). MSU ended the game with 17 turnovers compared to 10 for NU. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Spartans 40-35.

The loss is Michigan State’s first in the Big Ten this season, falling to 5-1 in conference play and 14-3 overall. Northwestern improves to 9-6 overall and 2-4 in conference play. The two teams split the series this season.

Michigan State will now have nearly a week in-between games before traveling to Wisconsin on Friday.