It wasn’t exactly inspiring, but it was a victory as No. 24 Michigan State came back again to win their second consecutive overtime game, outlasting Northwestern 71-67.
Northwestern (11-5, 2-4) had controlled a small lead most of the game with their patented motion offense resulting in easy points in the paint off of screens and basket cuts. The Wildcats had a 23-18 lead at the half and continued to stay a step ahead most of the second half until the Spartans (12-5, 4-1) late rally knotted the game at 60, forcing the extra period.
Keith Appling hit five three-pointers for the Spartans including a huge tres in overtime that gave Michigan State a lead they would not relinquish. Appling had 19 points while Draymond Green had a typical all-around game with 16 points, eight rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
Drew Crawford had 16 points on some highly contested shots and Michael Thompson had 15 for the Wildcats. Northwestern’s leading scorer and three-point specialist, John Shurna, was not a factor, going 2-10 from the field and finished with six points.
The Spartans are making a habit of starting games with a sluggish effort. Poor shot selection, turnovers and overall sloppy play have put them in numerous early holes. That may come back to haunt them as they head out for two conference road games next week, at Illinois and at Purdue.