In his best game since returning from a broken hand, Branden Dawson scored 16 points and added nine rebounds to lead the No. 22 Michigan State Spartans (24-8, 12-6 Big Ten) to a 67-51 victory over the Northwestern Wildcats (14-19, 6-12) to move on to the Big Ten tournament semi-finals.
In the first half of Friday’s game, the Spartans took control of the game right from the get-go, building a lead as big as 20 in the first 20 minutes of the game, going on to take a 40-22 lead into the break.
From there the Spartans would never look back, as they continued to roll in the second half, extending their lead to as much as 24.
A late rally led by Northwestern senior guard Drew Crawford, who finished with a game-high 21 points, which closed the Spartan lead to as little as 13 with less than three minutes to play, proved to be too late as the Spartans went on to take the game, 67-51.
While Dawson was unquestionably the star of the Spartan’s victory over the Wildcats Friday night, sophomore guard Gary Harris also contributed nicely to the win, finishing the game with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
As for senior Michigan State big man Adreian Payne, despite surpassing Drew Naymick as the all-time leader in blocks in MSU Basketball history, now with a career 135 blocks compared to Naymick’s 134, he had himself a rough game. Payne struggled mightily throughout the night against the Wildcats, finishing the game with 4 fouls and 4 turnovers, and only 5 points and 6 rebounds. Fortunately for him and the rest of the Michigan State basketball team though, his teammates stepped up for him.
Up next for the MSU Basketball team, they’ll move on to face the No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers (26-6, 12-6) in the Big Ten tournament semi-finals.
The only other time the Spartans and Badgers met this season came on Feb. 9 in Madison. In that contest, Wisconsin’s Traevon Jackson hit a jumper with 2.1 seconds left to give the Badgers the 60-58 victory over the Spartans.
Tip-off for the rematch is scheduled for approximately 4:10 pm ET and will be televised on CBS.