Cats fall at Michigan State

For the second straight season, a Northwestern player dropped 31 points at Michigan State. But there was no second straight win. John Shurna repeated Kevin Coble's 2009 outburst by hitting six three-pointers en route to a career-high 31. MSU, though, used an 18-4 second-half burst to down the Wildcats 79-70, leaving NU at 3-6 in the Big Ten.

EAST LANSING, Mich. - John Shurna hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 31 points, but fifth-ranked Michigan State used a surge to open the second half en route to downing Northwestern 79-70 Saturday evening at the Breslin Center.

NU falls to 14-7 overall and 3-6 in Big Ten play with the loss, while MSU improves to 19-3 and 9-0.

The Wildcats found the tempo to their liking in a closely contested first half. Neither team led by more than four points over the opening 20 minutes of play.

Northwestern rode the hot hand of Shurna early on. After posting a career-high 29 points in the first meeting between the teams Jan. 2 in Evanston, the sophomore forward hit a trio of 3-pointers before the break and scored 13 points.

NU got some key contributions from its bench over the opening 20 minutes of play, namely from Mike Capocci and Michigan native Davide Curletti. With the Wildcats trailing by three nearing the midway point of the half, Capocci scored on a lay-up and then on a dunk on the following possession to put the guests ahead 16-15.

Northwestern trailed by three late in the stanza before Drew Crawford drilled a triple to tie the game. Two free throws by Kalin Lucas gave the hosts a 30-28 edge at the intermission.

After holding the Spartans in check in the opening stanza, NU wasn't as fortunate out of the locker rooms. MSU hit eight of its first 10 shots to start the second period, scoring 18 of the first 22 points after the break to take a 48-32 advantage.

The Wildcats would eventually creep back to within eight on a 3-pointer by Drew Crawford with two minutes to go. Following a stop on the other end, a lay-in by Shurna make it a six-point game with 1:25 remaining, but NU was unable to get any closer.

Durrell Summers led Michigan State with 24 points, while Lucas added 23.

Northwestern returns to action at 6 p.m. Tuesday as it hosts Michigan at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tickets are still available.

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