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    Upset-Minded 'Cats Take Down No. 6/7 Spartans, 81-74

    Davide Curletti's 17 points were one shy of his career high.

    Davide Curletti's 17 points were one shy of his career high.

    Jan. 14, 2012

    Box Score |  Quotes |  Photo Gallery 1  |  Photo Gallery 2 

    WATCH: Game Recap | Postgame News Conference (All-Access)

    Site: Evanston, Ill. (Welsh-Ryan Arena)
    Score: Northwestern 81, #6/7 Michigan State 74
    Records: NU (12-5, 2-3 Big Ten), Michigan State (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten)
    Next NU Event: Wednesday, Jan. 18 -- at Wisconsin, 8 p.m. (BTN)

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Behind John Shurna's game-high 22 points, Northwestern handed No. 6/7 Michigan State its first conference loss on Saturday. Donning new black jerseys at home, the Wildcats had four players scoring double digits and used 42 second-half points to stave off the Spartans, 81-74.

    Senior Davide Curletti -- in his second-ever start -- notched 17 points, to go along with a career high-tying six rebounds. Drew Crawford knocked back three crucial triples and added 20 points towards the winning effort, and Reggie Hearn added 10 points and five rebounds of his own. The Spartans were paced on the afternoon by Keith Appling and Draymond Green with 17 and 14 points, respectively.

    The Spartans led early in the contest, going up by as much as nine in the first period. But the 'Cats kept pace and a late run allowed NU to close the gap, capped by an Alex Marcotullio three-pointer to knot things up at 33-33 with 1:48 remaining in the stanza.

    The turnaround moment for Northwestern -- and perhaps the highlight of the afternoon -- came when Shurna lofted a three off of a loose ball from near half court as time expired on the half to give the 'Cats a 39-37 advantage heading into the lockerrooms at the break.

    Northwestern never relinquished control after taking the lead into halftime. The Wildcats extended their lead to as much as 13 points behind shooting 50 percent from the floor and 47 percent from behind the arc. Freshman guard Dave Sobolewski, who scored six points, had a game-high seven assists, leading Northwestern's passing attack which kept the Spartans off balance defensively.

    After a media timeout midway through the second period, MSU threatened to make a comeback, cutting the lead to 69-64 with just over five minutes remaining. But a couple of Sobolewski free throws followed by a three from Shurna allowed the 'Cats to keep their distance and take home the seven-point win.

    Michigan State shot 65 percent from the field in the first half but was limited to 34.4 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes of play.

    The victory snapped Michigan State's 15-game winning streak. At No. 6 in the AP poll, the Spartans became Northwestern's highest-ranked victim since the Wildcats defeated No. 6 Purdue 72-64 Jan. 16, 2010.

    Northwestern returns to action at 8 p.m. Wednesday as it travels to Wisconsin.


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