Rapid Recap: Northwestern 70, No. 20 Michigan State 63


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Junior guard Ty Berry. Berry poured in 11 points and snagged five rebounds in Northwestern’s 70-63 win against No. 20 Michigan State Sunday.

Alex Cervantes, Assistant Sports Editor

Like when a bull sees red, something shifts in senior guard Boo Buie when he sees the green and white of Michigan State. 

Six days removed from a shellacking at the hands of Pittsburgh, Northwestern traveled to East Lansing, Michigan, to take on the No. 20 Spartans. The Wildcats (6-2, 1-0 Big Ten) entered Sunday’s contest looking to replicate last season’s upset bid over Michigan State (5-4, 0-1) — and that they did, winning 70-63. 

Though they were without last year’s heroics from current Blue Devil center Ryan Young, Buie and redshirt senior guard Chase Audige carried the Cats to a second consecutive win in the Breslin Center. The pair, seemingly unfazed by the 9-of-23 shooting performance against the Panthers, combined for half of NU’s 70 points.

Here are three takeaways from NU’s clash with Michigan State.


  1. NU’s backcourt trio leads the way on both ends

Ben Franklin once declared that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. But he never could have known the third guarantee: Buie pouring it in against the Spartans. 

In six career games against Michigan State, Buie has hit double digits five times. His 20-point performance against Tom Izzo’s bunch Sunday night not only propelled NU to a victory, but brought back memories of the 26-point and 30-point scoring outbursts of seasons’ past. Despite hitting just one triple, Buie was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line while also posting six of NU’s final eight points.

Alongside Buie, junior guard Ty Berry was the Cats’ other offensive threat in the first half, knocking down three triples for nine of his 11 total points. The Kansas native’s defensive effort helped NU force eight turnovers in the opening frame.

Though Berry’s form dropped off in the final 20 minutes, Audige picked up the offensive slack. With the shot clock winding down on the Cats’ opening second-half possession, Audige canned a deep triple on the left wing. The New York native also enjoyed his own seven-point spurt midway through the half as NU opened up a nine-point advantage.

All in all, the Cats’ backcourt triumvirate combined for 46 points in another NU upset win in East Lansing.

  1. The Cats thrive at the charity stripe

Entering Sunday’s contest, the Cats were attempting just 16.9 free throws per game and hitting those attempts at a 70.3% clip. NU eclipsed both those marks against the Spartans.

From the beginning, it was evident coach Chris Collins wanted his squad to get in the paint and to the line, which they did to great effect. Fresh off a 6-of-13 display at the charity stripe last Monday, the Cats shot 24 free throws Sunday, canning 21. 

Buie shone in particular and buried all of his attempts, as seven NU players attempted and made at least one free throw. 

Ultimately, getting free points at the charity stripe is a recipe for success in any basketball game and it will need to be a point of emphasis for the Cats as the season wears on.  

  1. Hoggard delivers for Spartans, duels NU guards

The Cats struggled to stymie Michigan State’s A.J. Hoggard, whom Izzo brought off the bench. 

The junior guard was, at times, the lone offensive spark for the Spartans, filling the stat sheet with a 12-point, eight-assist and six-rebound display. From the 14:53 mark in the second half, Hoggard had a hand in every Michigan State bucket. NU guards could often do little to stop his dribble drive penetration, whether he was creating for others or himself.

Collins had pinpointed Pittsburgh’s straight line drives as an area of concern in the Cats’ loss last week, and Hoggard, though to a lesser degree, exposed that once again. Nevertheless, NU’s on-ball defense and rotations were much improved as a whole Sunday, holding the Spartans to 41.8% shooting from the field 36.4% from deep.

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Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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