For Shurna, Saturday's contest marked the fourth consecutive game in which he has scored at least 22 points and upped his season scoring average to 17.3 points per game.Northwestern falls to 10-3 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten, while the Spartans improve to 11-3 on the season and 1-0 in conference action.
The opening half of play saw a total of six ties and 10 lead changes, with NU's reliable 1-3-1 zone pressuring Michigan State into nine turnovers--which the Wildcats cashed in for 13 points on the offensive end--in the opening 20 minutes. The 'Cats seized a 19-16 advantage at the 10-minute mark on a backdoor layup by Shurna, but the Spartans responded and eventually took a 27-25 lead on a trey by Durrell Summers.Shurna buried a jumper on the ensuing possession and then immediately stole the ball back for the 'Cats, getting it ahead to Jeremy Nash for a layup and foul that gave NU a 30-27 lead.
But with the score deadlocked at 30, the Spartans managed to go on an 11-3 spurt over the final 2:27 of the first half, punctuated by a Raymar Morgan 3-pointer with just three seconds showing on the clock that gave MSU a 41-33 lead at the break.Shurna was true on six of his 10 field goal attempts in the first half en route to 13 points.
Northwestern continued to play the defending Big Ten champs close over the opening minutes of the second half, cutting the deficit to eight on a pair of free throws by sophomore center Kyle Rowley with 14:39 to play. But Kalin Lucas, the reigning conference player of the year, hit two driving layups and a 3-pointer over the next 3:30 to give the visitors a 61-43 lead.Marcotullio stepped up and buried a three for the Wildcats to pull them within 14, but MSU answered on the other end with an and-1 layup by Draymond Green and another two-pointer by Lucas to put the game out of reach for Northwestern. Lucas finished with 21 points to lead the Spartans.
NU point guard Michael Thompson dished out seven assists and scored eight points in 38 minutes of action.The Wildcats step out of conference once again in their next outing when they host Texas-Pan American at 6 p.m. Thursday.