Chicago Sun-Times
with Tina Akouris

Northwestern's keys in its upset of No. 6 Michigan State

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How can a team shoot 65 percent from the field and lose?

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has a few explainations.

"We had rebounds and they took them from us three different times [on NU's three offensive rebounds] and scored," Izzo said. "The lack of experience [on the perimeter] is going to catch us sometimes and it caught us today a little bit. We shot 65 percent in the first half and 71 percent from the three and we're behind. And that just means our defense wasn't good enough."

The Spartans, down by two at halftime, came out and pulled a Northwestern in the second half and shot only 34.4 percent. And why would I say "pulled a Northwestern"? Because that's what the Wildcats had been doing for part of this Big Ten season -- they've been coming out hot in one half and cold in another.

But, thankfully, Saturday against the No. 6 Spartans, the Wildcats were able to put together two cohesive halves and beat a top 10 team on their own floor, 81-74.

NU shot 46.4 percent in the first half and 54.2 percent in the second.

"When we are running that offense fluid, we are tough to beat," said Wildcats forward Drew Crawford, who scored 20 points despite not being 100 percent and struggling with a stomach virus.

"It feels great," Crawford continued. "We were really upset about the last two losses [Illinois and No. 13 Michigan], especially considering we should have won both of those games and we knew we were capable of winning them and we couldn't make plays down the stretch. That was something we really focused on."

The Wildcats led by double digits 12 times and after John Shurna made the second of two free throws, NU led by its biggest margin of 12. The Spartans never led in the second half.

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This page contains a single entry by Tina Akouris published on January 14, 2012 10:25 PM.

John Shurna's post play and Reggie Hearn's analysis was the previous entry in this blog.

Alex Marcotullio, JerShon Cobb injury update is the next entry in this blog.

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