EAST LANSING, Mich. — If anyone ever wonders, there are few easy nights in the Big Ten.
Michigan State realized that first-hand on Sunday night as Northwestern rolled into the Breslin Center and controlled the game, getting a big bucket in the final seconds from Spartan killer Boo Buie to pull off the 70-63 victory in the Big Ten opener.
It was the third loss for Michigan State in its last four meetings with Northwestern and the second straight at home as the Spartans (5-4) have now lost two in a row after getting blown out on Wednesday at Notre Dame.
Buie, who has had some of his best games against Michigan State, scored 20 to lead the Wildcats (6-2) while Chase Audige scored 15 and Ty Berry chipped in 11.
Michigan State never found a rhythm offensively and didn't guard well without fouling, leading to Northwestern going 21-for-24 from the free-throw line while the Spartans were just 9-for-12.
A.J. Hoggard and Mady Sissoko each scored 12 for Michigan State and Joey Hauser had 10, but Hauser was just 3-for-12 from the field.
Michigan State took the early lead, going up 17-10 on a 3-pointer from Pierre Brooks just more than seven minutes into the game, but it was Northwestern that had the energy. The Wildcats were defending well, making it difficult on the Spartans to get clean looks, and after the shot from Brooks, things started to come together for Northwestern at the offensive end.
An 8-0 run was capped by a running jumper from Buie to give the Wildcats an 18-17 lead.
Michigan State responded with a 10-2 surge to push the advantage back to seven at 27-20 with 8:24 left in the first half. But the momentum was short lived as a 9-2 run from Northwestern tied the game with the Wildcats taking the lead, 34-31, on a three-point play from Buie with three minutes left.
The Spartans pulled within one but a last-second shot from Brooks was off the mark as Northwestern took a 38-37 lead into the halftime locker room.
Northwestern continued to be the aggressor in the second half, pushing the lead to 52-44 on back-to-back easy baskets for Audige in transition of Michigan State turnovers.
Michigan State slowly started to claw its way back into the game, getting back-to-back 3-pointers from Brooks and Tyson Walker, cutting the Northwestern advantage to 58-54 with 8:07 left in the game.
Things went back and forth from there as neither team could swing momentum, trading baskets and empty possessions as the Wildcats held a 62-58 lead with four minutes to play.
A Buie runner put Northwestern up 64-58, but Hoggard converted a three-point play to pull Michigan State within three with 1:26 left. The Spartans then got a stop and pulled within 64-63 on Hoggard's driven and bucket at the rim with 45.3 left in the game.
But Buie scored on a drive to the basket to put the Wildcats up three and Michigan State didn't score again.(c)2022 The Detroit News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.