The Michigan State Spartans and the Northwestern Wildcats met back in January inside the Breslin Center in their first meeting of the 2014-15 season. Northwestern got hot from long distance, and the game needed overtime before a winner was decided. Michigan State came away with a hard-fought 84 – 77 victory on their home floor.
Tuesday night marked the rematch between the two schools, and the outcome was never in question in this one. The Wildcats entered on a nine-game losing streak, and were searching for answers, while the Spartans were looking for some positive momentum as they look to stay in the conversation for an NCAA Tournament berth.
On this night, Northwestern left with more questions about their season, and the Spartans made a big statement. Michigan State cruised from start to finish, routing the Wildcats 68 – 44 inside the Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Northwestern would get on the board first, thanks to a pair of free throws from Bryant McIntosh, but that was the only time the Wildcats would lead in the contest.
Michigan State would start to show off their long range shooting as the first half wore on, as Denzel Valentine, Travis Trice, and Bryn Forbes all connected on three-point jumpers before the 10 minute mark hit.
Tre Demps connected on a three-pointer of his own to bring Northwestern back to within 3, at 16 – 13, with just over 10 minutes to play. From there, the Wildcats would go ice cold from the field and Michigan State would take over.
The Spartans would go on a 22 – 1 run over the remaining 10 minutes of the first half to stretch their lead to 24 points. Michigan State took a commanding 38 – 14 lead into the break in what was a dismal first half for the hometown Wildcats.
In the first half, Tre Demps was the only player to make a field goal for Northwestern, scoring 10 of the team’s 14 points. Bryant McIntosh recorded the other four from the free throw line.
In the second half, Northwestern saw a different name with a field goal, as Vic Law became the first person not named “Tre Demps” to score from the field when he recorded a lay-up at the 16:41 mark.
Unfortunately for the struggling Wildcats, Michigan State was too much to handle on this night. At one point, the Spartans had stretched their lead to 35 points, thanks to a pair of Travis Trice free throws at the 11:27 mark.
Over the next four minutes, Northwestern went on an 12 – 0 run of their own to trim the deficit to 23 points, but it was much too little and much too late.
The Spartans wouldn’t let the Wildcats get any closer than 19 points down the stretch, and put things on cruise control as they rolled to victory.
Michigan State has faced criticism all season long for not playing like the Spartan teams that people are used to, and have found themselves on the brink of an NCAA Tournament berth over the past couple of weeks. They bounced back from a home loss against Illinois with a massive win over the lowly Wildcats, in a game they were supposed to win.
Michigan State completed the season sweep over the Wildcats with a 68 – 44 win on Tuesday night.
For the visiting Spartans, Travis Trice came off the bench and led all Michigan State players in scoring with 16 points. Denzel Valentine stuffed the box score once again, recording 14 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds in the win. Branden Dawson fell just short of another double-double, recording 7 points and 10 rebounds.
As a team, the Spartans shot an impressive 52.0% (13-of-25) from three-point range in the win.
For the struggling Wildcats, Tre Demps led all scorers in the game with 20 points, and he was the lone bright spot for the team. Freshman sensation Bryant McIntosh went 0-of-5 from the floor, and only recorded 4 points in the loss.
As a team, Northwestern shot 35.7% (15-of-42) from the field. Demps made up the majority of that percentage, going 8-of-12 from the field by himself. That means the rest of the Wildcats went a dismal 7-of-30 (23.3%) from the field.
Up next for Michigan State (16 – 8, 7 – 4) is another chance for a marquee win in conference play. The Spartans can make a statement and get back into the projected tournament field with a win on Saturday when they welcome rival Ohio State to East Lansing.
For the Northwestern Wildcats (10 – 14, 1 – 10), the loss on Tuesday marked their 10th straight in conference play. The road doesn’t get any easier, as they take on the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday afternoon.