Jan. 21, 2009
Coupled with the 74-65 victory over No. 18 Minnesota on Sunday, Northwestern has defeated ranked opponents in consecutive games for the first time in school history.
The win was the Wildcats' first over a team ranked in the top 10 since it downed No. 8 Michigan 97-93 in overtime March 12, 1994. It's the program's first victory over a top 10 opponent on the road since a 71-65 win at No. 4 Minnesota Jan. 3, 1953.
Kevin Coble's 31 points marked the third-highest scoring game of his career and tie Craig Moore's effort at Brown on Nov. 22 as the highest output by a Big Ten player this season. Coble scored 37 points vs. No. 15 Indiana Feb. 23, 2008 and 34 vs. Michigan Jan. 12, 2008.
NU's victory snapped Michigan State's 28-game home winning streak, the third-longest streak in the nation. The last time the Spartans had lost a game at the Breslin Center was Feb. 3, 2007 to No. 4 Ohio State. It also ended Michigan State's 80-game home winning streak against unranked opponents.
Michigan State's Kalin Lucas entered the game second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.12, but was forced into six turnovers with just two assists. Minnesota sophomore guard Al Nolen came into Sunday's game with Northwestern ranked fifth in the nation in the category and finished with the same totals as Lucas.
In the Wildcats' last three games, all against ranked teams, the team has forced 22 turnovers against No. 19 Purdue, 19 against No. 18 Minnesota and 18 at No. 7 Michigan State. Northwestern entered Wednesday's contest leading the Big Ten in conference games with an average of 15.6 turnovers forced per game.
In 38 minutes of action Wednesday, NU sophomore point guard Michael Thompson committed just one turnover while handing out three assists. In six Big Ten games and 200 minutes of action, Thompson has committed a mere five turnovers. He entered the game at Michigan State leading the Big Ten with a 4.25 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference play.
Thompson's 20-point performance marked the second time in his career he has scored at least 20 points. He scored a collegiate-best 24 points at DePaul Nov. 17, 2007.
Spartan forward Raymar Morgan, who had been suffering from the flu the past few days, entered the contest averaging 15.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, but was held to one point and one rebound while committing four fouls in 18 minutes of action against Northwestern.
NU's win was its first at the Breslin Center, and its first at Michigan State overall since a 76-69 victory in East Lansing Jan. 7, 1984.