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03/10/2013 9:56 PM EDT
No. 10 Michigan State beats Northwestern 71-61
MICHIGAN ST 71, NORTHWESTERN 61
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- This was one Big Ten title coach Tom
Izzo could live without.
Needing help from rival Michigan for a chance to share the
conference crown, No. 10 Michigan State instead settled for
second place. The Spartans beat Northwestern 71-61 on Sunday
night, but they'd already been eliminated from the championship
race when Indiana beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
"Sure, I would have liked to have another Big Ten championship,
but I like getting them when I earn them," Izzo said. "I don't
need anybody else earning them for me."
Keith Appling scored 16 points and Gary Harris added 12 for the
Spartans, who struggled to put away the undermanned Wildcats.
Northwestern (13-18, 4-14 Big Ten) rallied from a 13-point
first-half deficit, tying the game at 51 before the Spartans
Kale Abrahamson scored 16 points for Northwestern, which has
lost eight straight. The Spartans finished in a tie for second
place with Ohio State, a game behind Indiana.
Michigan State senior Derrick Nix scored 10 points in his final
home game. The Spartans (24-7, 13-5) shot 66 percent from the
field and 6 of 10 from 3-point range.
Michigan State held its ceremony for Nix after the game - and
Izzo did his best to fire up the crowd, despite the fact that
the Spartans fell short of the title. Michigan State needed
Michigan to beat Indiana for the Spartans to have any chance of
sharing the championship.
"You've got yourself a blue-collar coach who hasn't been given
anything," Izzo told the crowd. "And I don't want anything from
anyone else in this state."
The Wolverines and Hoosiers were tied at 64 when Michigan
State's game tipped off. Michigan inched ahead, and with fans in
East Lansing glancing at hand-held devices, it appeared the
Wolverines might get a rare ovation at the Breslin Center.
But Michigan let the game slip away, removing some of the
meaning from Michigan State's regular-season finale. Appling
said he got the news of the Wolverines' loss from assistant
coach Dane Fife.
"Coach Fife told me they won. Then he said they lost," Appling
said. "After that it was hard to focus in on the game."
The rest of the first half seemed anti-climactic - the most
interesting moment might have been when a small bird was spotted
on the actual playing surface near midcourt for a few seconds.
Early in the second half, out-of-town scores were announced at
Breslin, but Michigan-Indiana was left out. That drew a chuckle
from some people in the crowd.
At that point, Northwestern had rallied to within five. It was
43-40 before Travis Trice and Adreian Payne made back-to-back
3-pointers to push the lead back to nine.
The Wildcats answered with an 11-2 run, tying it at 51 on two
free throws by Reggie Hearn. Abrahamson could have given
Northwestern the lead, but his 3-pointer from near the top of
the key went in and out.
Northwestern went 7 of 27 from beyond the arc.
"To beat that team, you have to be 12 for 27," Wildcats coach
Bill Carmody said. "You can't be 7 for 27."
Harris put Michigan State back up by two. Alex Olah tied it
again with a dunk, but Nix scored inside to give the Spartans
the lead for good.
Nix was pulled with 1:03 remaining and his team up by nine. He
kissed the Spartans' logo at midcourt and then left to a nice
"This program has given me way more than I've given the
program," Nix told the crowd afterward. "This is probably the
best team I've been on my whole life. These guys have all come
to my rescue at some point, and Coach is probably the closest
I've had to a father."
Northwestern, which is without Drew Crawford and Jared Swopshire
because of injuries, will be seeded 11th in the Big Ten
tournament. Michigan State will be the No. 3 seed.
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