Feb. 13, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Northwestern was denied its fourth consecutive road win Thursday night as the Wildcats fell to No. 9/10 Michigan State, 85-70, at Breslin Center.
Northwestern's JerShon Cobb led all scorers with 22 points in the ballgame, while teammates Drew Crawford and Tre Demps poured in 18 points apiece. With his 18 points in the game, Crawford became the third-leading scorer in program history, passing the legendary Evan Eschmeyer (1995-99). The redshirt senior, who now has 1,807 career points, sits behind only Billy McKinney (1974-77), who scored an even 1,900 points in his career, and his former teammate John Shurna (2009-12), who scored 2,038 points for the Wildcats.
Cobb had the hot hand early as he spearheaded NU's offensive effort in the first half with 12 points and an assist. His clutch three-pointer with just over 12 minutes left before halftime tied the game at 17.
But just after the midway point of the first period, the Spartans began to build a significant lead thanks to some aggressive play in the paint. A tie with 10 minutes left in the frame soon ballooned into an eight-point Spartan lead with five minutes remaining before the break.
Despite shooting 50 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, the 'Cats trailed by nine at break, 39-30, due in part to six turnovers, and in part to the Michigan State's advantage on the offensive glass.
The home team looked as though they might run away with the game to start the second half, pushing the lead to 16 before three minutes had passed. Cobb, who doubled-up his season scoring average with 22 points Thursday, soon initiated a Wildcat run. With 17 minutes left in the game, Cobb nailed another three-pointer from the right side and was fouled by Michigan State's Denzel Valentine on the play.
After sinking the free throw, Cobb came back down and hit another three-pointer from the opposite side. To complete the trifecta, the junior got an advantageous bounce from the rim for a third-straight three-pointer that pulled Northwestern within 12 points.
After Crawford and redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin each added a bucket, Michigan State began to grab back the momentum as the Wildcats went quiet on the offensive end. NU missed six of its next seven shots and turned the ball over twice in a three-minute span while the Spartans hit three baskets of their own and added three from the charity stripe to swell their lead to a game-high 19 points.
Crawford and Demps turned up the tempo midway through the second half, but the Spartans had an answer for nearly every shot the visitors made as NU's defense surrendered more than 65 points for the first time since Jan. 25 against Iowa.
Undeterred by the scoreboard, NU kept battling until the end of the game. With 30 seconds left, Demps drove ahrd to the basket and was rewarded with an emphatic dunk. The basket gave the Wildcats 70 points in a ballgame for the first time in Big Ten play under head coach Chris Collins.
Crawford handed out a season-high seven assists for the Wildcats, which was also tops in the game. Cobb pulled down seven rebounds to lead Northwestern.
Northwestern will head back home to Welsh-Ryan Arena to host the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. CT. The game will televised on the Big Ten Network and broadcast on AM 720 WGN radio. Tickets are still available on NUsports.com or by calling 888-GO-PURPLE (467-8775).
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