Cardiac 'Cats Come Up Short

With three minutes remaining, it looked like Michigan State was on their way to an easy win, as they held a 12-point lead. The Wildcats went on a 12-0 run, but could not complete their comeback. It was another devastating loss for the ‘Cardiac Cats', as they fell 65-62.

"You'd like to see the fruits of your work come out on the plus side," said NU head coach Bill Carmody after the loss.

Northwestern (9-3, 0-2) was led by Drew Crawford's game-high 17-points, and Juice Thompson's 12-points, nine of those coming in the Wildcats' 12-0 run.

Thompson struggled for most of the game, but was big for the ‘Cats late in the game. With less than three minutes to go, he hit a jump-shot, a layup on a great backdoor pass, and after Davide Curletti drilled a three-pointer, Thompson hit a layup, which cut the Spartan lead down to one point.

"It was an exciting comeback," said NU junior forward Drew Crawford. "Juice just kind of put the team on his shoulders and willed us back in the game."

Michigan State had one last possession with the shot clock turned off, and Northwestern fouled Kalin Lucas with less than 12 seconds left. Lucas missed the first free-throw of a one-and-one, but Draymond Green saved Lucas with a clutch offensive rebound.

Green hit both free-throws, giving Northwestern the last shot. Juice Thompson missed a game-winning three-pointer, but Keith Appling was called for a foul, giving the ‘Cats one last shot with 0.9 second left on the clock. But Drew Crawford's off-balance three-pointer missed, and the Spartans prevailed.

"I just kind of shot it, it was a tough shot to make," Crawford said about his shot. Northwestern was able to control the final two minutes of the game, which allowed the comeback. Michigan State lost their momentum, which gave the Wildcats a great opportunity to win the game. After the game, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo took the blame for allowing the Wildcats to comeback.

"We just got a little out of whack. I think I'm the one to be blamed for that. We had some timeouts, and I didn't use them."

The first half was dictated by Michigan State, but the Spartans were not able to separate. The Spartans held a nine-point lead with 2:33 remaining in the first half, but Northwestern ended the half with five-straight points, capped off by a Shurna steal, and pass to Crawford, who hit a layup as time expired.

Midway through the second half, the Spartans appeared set to pull away, jumping to a 63-50 lead, when Thompson and Northwestern went on their 12-0 run.

The Spartans were led by three scorers in double-figures, including Draymond Green's 15-points, and Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summer's 12-points. Northwestern played their best basketball in the final two minutes, and played their worst basketball of the season in the first 38 minutes.

Prior to the comeback, Northwestern was shooting just 26% from the field, and had hit 13 shots during the entire game. That can be credited to the Spartan's great defensive effort. Michigan State got sloppy late in the final two minutes, which nearly cost them the game.

"I'm not going to let two minutes ruin 38, because Northwestern is a very good basketball team," Tom Izzo said after the game.

After their second Big Ten loss, and third loss in four games, the Wildcats have yet another tough task ahead of them, as they travel to Champaign to take on the rival Illinois Fighting Illini.

After another heartbreaking loss, the Wildcats have to put this loss in the rearview mirror.

"We just got to be able to move on from it," said Drew Crawford. "We got to learn how to move our offense more precisely. We're going to come to practice tomorrow, and get ready for the rest of the Big Ten season."

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