In their quest to remain atop the Big Ten standings, Michigan State used its most balanced attack all year to defeat the Northwestern Wildcats, 85-70.
The Spartans relied mostly on their offense to propel the team to victory.
“We didn’t guard like we normally guard,” head coach Tom Izzo said. “That was the only disappointing part.”
MSU shot 47 percent in the first half. The team improved that number in the second half, shooting a blistering 61 percent. State finished the game just over 53 percent.
The Spartans led by as many as 12 in the first, but led by just nine heading into halftime. Northwestern’s JerShon Cobb did all he could to keep the Wildcats in it, scoring 12 in the first half. Cobb was effective in the post against the smaller Travis Trice, but shot just 2-6 from three point range. Cobb finished with 22 points, two points short of his career high.
“They hurt us on the boards early,” Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said after the game. “It kind of set the tone.”
The second half was more of the same for Michigan State. Izzo’s team started the half on a 7-0 run and never let the lead slip below double digits for the rest of the game.
Adreian Payne recorded his fifth double-double of the season scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
Matt Costello had nine points and was the only Spartan starter not to score in double figures.
Trice and Valentine proved once again that that they are more than capable as Keith Appling’s replacement. In the past three games, the pair have combined for 30 assists and five turnovers. Trice has not committed a turnover since the game against Georgetown.
“I think Travis is playing comfortable in (the point guard) role,” Izzo said. “He’s the healthiest he’s been and I think that’s a big reason for it.”
The Spartans look to string together back to back wins for the first time this month when they take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers Sunday afternoon. Tip is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Andrew Hayes is the host of Impact Izzone for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports