Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Miles Bridges, No. 2 Michigan State rally from 27 points down to beat Northwestern
By ANDREW SELIGMANROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Cassius Winston scored 17 points, and No. 2 Michigan State erased a 27-point deficit on Saturday to beat Northwestern 65-60 and extend its winning streak to 10 games.
Nick Ward added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Miles Bridges hit four free throws in the final minute, and the Spartans (26-3, 14-2 Big Ten) used a huge second half to pull out the win when they looked like they were headed to a stunning blowout loss.
Vic Law cooled off after a blistering start to finish with 21 points, and Northwestern (15-13, 6-9) made just 3 of 26 field goals in the second half.
The Wildcats gave themselves a great chance at their first win over a Top 5 team since 1979 even though star guard Bryant McIntosh sat out with a shoulder injury.
They led by as much as 27 and were up 49-27 after a stunning first half that had fans chanting “Overrated!” But the Spartans — tied for the Big Ten lead coming into the game — sure did turn it around after halftime.
They outscored Northwestern 29-4 over the first 14½ minutes, tying it on Nick Ward’s tip-in and taking their first lead of the game at 56-53 on Jaren Jackson’s three-point play with 5:26 remaining.
The Wildcats went more than 11 minutes without scoring before Dererk Pardon hit two free throws with just over five minutes left.
With the Spartans clinging to a two-point lead in the final minute, Bridges hit two free throws and Winston added two more to make it 63-57. Law nailed a 3 for Northwestern to make it a three-point game with 11.4 seconds remaining, but Bridges hit two more foul shots.
BIG PICTUREMichigan State: With their two remaining games against bottom-five Big Ten teams — last-place Illinois and Wisconsin — the Spartans are in good position to finish first in the conference. They also appear poised to make a long NCAA Tournament run, with an eighth Final Four appearance and second national championship under Izzo a possibility, even though they’re playing against a backdrop of the scandal involving former campus sports doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted of child pornography and sexual assault after abusing athletes in his care.
Northwestern: This might be the most disappointing loss in a letdown of a season for the Wildcats after their first NCAA Tournament appearance.
UP NEXTMichigan State: The Spartans host Illinois in their final home game on Tuesday.
Northwestern: The Wildcats play Maryland on Monday in the second of three consecutive home games.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.