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January 14, 2012

Cats stun No. 6 MSU

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) John Shurna scored 22 points and Northwestern beat No. 6 Michigan State 81-74 on Saturday, ending the Spartans' 15-game winning streak.

Drew Crawford added 20 points and Davide Curletti, making his first start of the season, had a season-high 17 for the Wildcats (12-5, 2-3 Big Ten), who rebounded from a tough overtime loss at Michigan three days ago.

Michigan State (15-3, 4-1) lost for the first time since it was beaten by Duke in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15.

Keith Appling led the Spartans with 17 points and Draymond Green had 14 points and 14 rebounds. Michigan State shot 65 percent in the first half and then went cold in the second 20 minutes against Northwestern's zone.

The loss was just the fourth in 30 games against Northwestern for Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and left him two shy of 400 career victories.

Northwestern fans stormed the court after the victory, perhaps a pivotal one for the Wildcats as they shoot for the first NCAA tournament berth in school history.

Crawford hit a jumper and then made a 3-pointer as Northwestern extended its lead to six points 5 minutes into the second half as the Spartans missed five straight shots.

Even after playing good defense, the Spartans had trouble controlling Northwestern.

Shurna put up a wild shot to beat the shot clock but teammate Reggie Hearn sailed through the lane and followed it up. Then Curletti broke for the basket on a back door play and dunked to give the Wildcats a seven-point lead with just over 12 minutes left.

After such a torrid shooting first half, the Spartans missed 12 of their first 15 field goal attempts in the second. Shurna broke free for a layup and minutes later had a dunk as Northwestern increased the lead to 12 with 8:32 left.

State rallied with a 7-0 run started by Travis Trice's 3-pointer and cut the lead to 69-64 with 5:32 left. But Dave Sobolewski hit two free throws and Shurna made another 3-pointer from the top of the key and the lead was back to 10.

Michigan State made nine of its first 10 field goal attempts, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Green hit three straight early 3-pointers and the Spartans led by as many as nine, having little trouble with Northwestern's defense early.

But the second half was a turnaround. The Spartans shot 34.4 percent (11 for 32) in the final 20 minutes and were only 4 for 11 on 3-pointers.



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