Even with two starters out of the lineup, Michigan State was too much for Northwestern to handle.
The Wildcats managed to hang close to the No. 9 Spartans for a little while, but MSU's hot shooting proved to be the Wildcats' undoing in an 85-70 thumping at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich., on Thursday night. The Spartans coasted to the easy victory despite having point guard Keith Appling and power forward Branden Dawson sidelined with injuries.
Here are our rapid reactions to Northwestern's second straight setback:
Did you see that? Tre Demps' two-handed dunk. Michigan State provided nearly all the high-flying moments, but Northwestern got one of its own in garbage time. Surprisingly enough, it was Demps who supplied it on what may have been the first dunk of his career. With under a minute remaining, he had the ball on the left wing and drove right down the middle of the lane. Michigan State walk-on Colby Wollenman tried to meet him at the rim and block the shot, but Demps flushed in a strong two-handed jam while getting fouled.
Offensive player of the game: JerShon Cobb. Michigan State started the game hot from the floor, and Cobb was the main (and almost the only) reason the Wildcats were able to stay in it. He came out firing, from beyond the arc and within it. He cooled down in the second portion of the first half, but he found his groove again after the break. Starting with a four-point play, he hit a trio of 3-pointers all in a row. But even that wasn't enough to keep up with the Spartans' torrid 53.3 percent shooting. Ultimately, he finished with 22 points.
Defensive player of the game: Sanjay Lumpkin. He's become the default in this category, even though it didn't look like Wildcats played particularly well on defense. Of course, Michigan State's shooting didn't do much to make the Wildcats look good. Still, Lumpkin did his thing, scrapping down low and getting his hands in the passing lane. He finished with three rebounds and one of just two total steals for Northwestern.
Rewriting the record book: Drew Crawford passed another big Northwestern name on the school's all-time scoring list. A jumper late in the second half gave him 18 points on the night and put him past Evan Eschmeyer and into third place, according to the Big Ten Network commentators. Ahead of him are only Billy McKinney and John Shurna.
Turning point: The start of the second half. Northwestern trailed 39-30 coming out of the break and looked to make a quick run, but the Spartans would have none of it. Adreian Payne opened the scoring with a monstrous dunk, and his 3-pointer two possessions later made it 46-30, and the Wildcats wouldn't get the deficit back to single digits for the rest of the game.
Key stat: 8:43. That's how long into the second half it took before Michigan State finally missed a field goal attempt. Up until that point, the Spartans hit nine straight shots to open the half. By the time that barrage was over, they led 65-46. Northwestern didn't play terribly, but coach Tom Izzo's team was hitting everything. This must have been how Wisconsin felt when Northwestern was on fire at the Kohl Center.