Cassius Winston posted 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and No. 2 Michigan State erased a 27-point deficit to deny upset-minded Northwestern 65-60 on Saturday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.
Nick Ward supplied 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans, who won their 10th straight and took sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, a half-game over idle Ohio State. Jaren Jackson Jr. added 11 points for Michigan State (26-3, 14-2 Big Ten), which scored 24 unanswered points during the second half to take the lead.
Vic Law led the Wildcats (15-13, 6-9) with 21 points and five assists but he scored only three points after halftime. Gavin Skelly tossed in 11 points and Scottie Lindsey chipped in 10 points with four assists for Northwestern, which went more than 11 1/2 minutes without scoring during the Spartans’ rally.
The Wildcats played without second-leading scorer Bryant McIntosh, who suffered a right shoulder injury in an overtime loss to Rutgers on Tuesday. Northwestern had only eight scholarship players available.
The Spartans required less than eight minutes to erase their deficit. They were down 53-32 when the Wildcats’ Anthony Gaines made two free throws with 16:40 remaining. Winston had eight points and two assists during the outburst and Ward’s layup with 8:49 left tied it.
Neither side scored for more than three minutes until Jackson gave Michigan State the lead with a three-point play. Derek Pardon finally ended the Wildcats’ drought with 5:09 left on two free throws. Winston answered 12 seconds later with a 3-pointer, and the Spartans held a narrow advantage the rest of the way.
Northwestern led 49-27 at halftime.
The Wildcats blindsided Michigan State with a 23-4 first-half run to take a 33-10 lead. Law took over the game during that stretch, scoring the first seven points during the run. He also made two assists and capped it off with a pair of 3-pointers.
When Skelly completed a three-point play with 4:18 left in the half, Northwestern’s lead mushroomed to 27, 43-16. After Law stole an inbounds pass and fed Gaines for a fast-break dunk, the Wildcats had a 49-24 lead.
—Field Level Media