No. 22 Michigan State tops Northwestern, 67-51




March 14, 2014

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Drew Crawford walked off the court with 43 seconds left in his final Big Ten Tournament game to an ovation from fans and was embraced by Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.

"I told him it's been an honor playing against his teams," Crawford said after Friday night's 67-51 loss to the No. 22 Spartans in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. "Michigan State's an unbelievable program. It means a lot that he's always respected me as a player. So it was nice to send it off that way."

Crawford walked off the court as Northwestern's No. 2 career scoring leader.

He scored 21 points to surpass Billy McKinney on the scoring list and Alex Olah finished with 10 for the 11th-seeded Wildcats (14-19), who lost to the Spartans in the league tournament for the fourth time.

For Izzo, the respect is mutual.

"I don't know how a guy could be that good of a kid when his dad is an official," Izzo said, referring to Crawford's father, Dan, who is an official in the NBA. "I don't know how that's possible, but he is."

But it was Izzo's Spartans who put an end to Crawford's college playing days.

Branden Dawson had 16 points and Gary Harris added 13 points to lead the Spartans.

Dawson played in his fourth straight game since missing nine with a broken right hand and continues to wear a brace. After scoring 6.7 points and grabbing 6.3 rebounds in his first three games back, he finished with nine rebounds against the Wildcats and reached double figures for the first time since he scored 13 against Indiana in January.

The third-seeded Spartans (24-7), who lost 3 of 4 games heading into the contest, will face No. 12 Wisconsin in one semifinal Saturday.

Michigan State went on a 13-3 spurt in the first half and then extended the lead with a 9-3 run in the second half.

Denzel Valentine made a free throw, and Keith Appling, Adreian Payne and Dawson each scored. Harris made a reverse lay-up and hit a 3-pointer to put Michigan State ahead 57-33 with 9:23 remaining.

The Spartans started Payne, Dawson, Valentine, Harris and Appling for the third straight game. The five started the first two games of the Big Ten season, but because of either injuries or illness, the five didn't start together again until Michigan State's win over Iowa on March 6.

Izzo had every player available for only the final three regular-season games and the Spartans still have work to do.

"Let's not kid ourselves," Izzo said. "We are going to be a work in progress every game we play. Are we making progress? Yeah, we are. But tomorrow will be a good test to see where we are."

In the first half, Tre Demps hit a jumper to make it 27-17 before the Spartans pulled away.

Harris, who scored eight points in the first half, made a pair of free throws and a layup to put the Spartans ahead 31-17 at the start of the 13-3 run.

Dawson scored and Matt Costello dunked to give the Spartans a 35-20 advantage. Then Michigan State forced a turnover and Dave Sobolewski intentionally fouled Costello on a fast-break dunk.

Costello converted the 3-point play and Dawson scored to give the Spartans a 40-20 lead with 45 seconds left in the half.

Crawford hit a pair of free throws to make it 40-22 at halftime.

Harris blocked a shot by Crawford and Payne made a 3-pointer, and Appling scored to give the Spartans a 45-22 advantage to start the second half.

Then the Wildcats went on an 8-0 run.

Nikola Cerina scored and Crawford made a pair of free throws and two baskets to make it 45-30 with 14:55 remaining before the Spartans pulled away again.

"Our guys were dead during the huddles," Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. "It was hard for me to talk to them they were gasping for air so much. What we talked about those last 8 minutes was, `No matter what the score is, we're going to finish this year the way we've played all year. We're going to finish this year by fighting."'

The Wildcats end their season after becoming the first 11th-seed to win a Big Ten Tournament game since 1999. They beat Iowa in the opening round of the tournament after defeating Purdue in the regular-season finale.

The Spartans lost to Wisconsin 60-59 in the only meeting between the teams, on Feb. 9.

"It's going to be an old-fashioned fistfight," Izzo said. "That's what Michigan State and Wisconsin is like."


 

 

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