In the midst of a 9-game win streak, the Wildcats looked to start off 2-0 in B1G play Friday night in East Lansing. Nearing the top 25 and continuing to improve their tournament resume, these are the conference games that Northwestern will need to start winning, despite coming in as slight underdogs.
- With both team’s starting centers still a game or two from return, the lineups went like this: for NU it was McIntosh, Lindsey, Law, Lumpkin, and freshman Barrett Benson. For MSU it was McQuaid, Winston, Langford, Ward, and Van Dyk.
- Starting off the first half, Sparty bolted out of the gates going out to 21-6 lead after the first 10 minutes. Much of the trouble for NU came from missed layups and early fouls.
- Cassius Winston and Alvin Ellis III would lead MSU in scoring, as they pounced on NU’s defense from the start.
- After going down by as much as 19 points, Chris Collins’ group showed their resilience by fighting back and went into the half down just 36-29.
- One of the issues, at least for Chris Collins, was the officiating in the 1st Amidst some questionable calls, Chris Collins was visibly upset at times and was lucky to only receive a warning.
- I must admit, referee Bo Boroski, who was a part of the controversial MSU-FGCU game earlier this year at the Breslin Center, seemed to be the one actually calling the majority of fouls in Northwestern’s favor. After a double foul call, Tom Izzo could even be seen mouthing “that’s the right call.”
- In the 2nd half, the two teams traded baskets, with Northwestern coming within four points of MSU, before Sparty answered each time. Most of the half was spent with NU chasing 7-10 points.
- MSU would eventually close out the game by a score of 61-52.
- One of the big issues for Northwestern was foul trouble. Freshman Barrett Benson had trouble staying in the game with 3 fouls. Gavin Skelly and Sanjay Lumpkin, NU’s other two primary options for post defense, fouled out.
- While nobody fouled out for MSU, they also found themselves in foul trouble. Fortunately, NU went just 7-12 from the free throw line.
- Moving forward, Northwestern will be anticipating the return of Dererk Pardon, whose size and defense would have been much appreciated Friday night. Bryant McIntosh will need to continue progressing his shooting efficiency, as he familiarly had a terrible night (3-14) from the field.
- NU hosts Minnesota in Evanston on Thursday, another conference game that they must win if they want to build their tournament resume.
- For MSU, the anticipated return of freshman stud Miles Bridges continues to get closer. While Tom Izzo has expressed his caution in returning Bridges too quickly, Bridges was suited up for Friday’s game.
- After starting conference play 2-0, MSU should continue their undefeated start Wednesday evening as they host a Rutgers team whose 11-3 record is deceptive, to say the least.