Michigan stays perfect with rout of Northwestern
Zavier Simpson stuffed the stat sheet Sunday night with 24 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals as No. 2 Michigan stayed unbeaten with an easy 80-60 Big Ten Conference win over short-handed Northwestern in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The win gave the Wolverines (170, 6-0 Big Ten) their best start in program history, breaking a tie with the 2012-13 team that started 16-0. Overall, Michigan has won 31 of its last 32 games.
Jon Teske scored 17 points, all in the first half, and hauled in 11 rebounds for the Wolverines. Charles Matthews added 13 points, and freshman Ignas Brazdeikis chipped in 11 as Michigan canned 52.5 percent from the field and hit 11 of 27 3-point attempts.
Dererk Pardon tallied 20 points on 10-of-16 shooting to pace the Wildcats (10-7, 1-5), and Ryan Taylor netted 15, going 4 of 7 on 3-pointers. But Northwestern simply didn’t have enough punch to make a game of it without leading scorer Vic Law.
The 6-foot-7 senior, averaging more than 17 points per game, sat out with a lower-body injury. The Wildcats hung around for about 12 minutes before the Wolverines’ stifling defense teamed with efficient offense to stretch the lead to 22 by halftime.
Pardon’s dunk at the 9:32 mark of the first half drew Northwestern within 21-18, but Michigan blew it open shortly thereafter. Isaiah Livers and Jordan Poole drilled 3-pointers to start a game-deciding 29-10 run that lasted the final 9:15 of the half.
The advantage reached double figures for good as Simpson stroked a 3-ball with 4:45 left in the half to make it 34-22. Teske rattled off 11 straight points in a 2:29 span, and Simpson’s steal and layup just before halftime made it 50-28 at intermission.
Spartans’ streak at 10
Sixth-ranked Michigan State entered Sunday’s game at Penn State as one of the best defensive teams in the nation.
And the Spartans leaned on that defense heavily, overcoming sloppy offense to beat the Nittany Lions, 71-56, in University Park, Pa. for their 10th straight victory.
Nick Ward scored 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead Michigan State (15-2, 6-0 Big Ten). But the rest of the offense wasn’t as reliable.
Cassius Winston struggled for much of the game, turning it over seven times. He did score 11 points and hand out six assists. Matt McQuaid added 15 points, as the Spartans were without Joshua Langford for the fourth straight game as well as Kyle Ahrens, who stayed back in East Lansing with a back sprain.
Lamar Stevens scored 20 to lead Penn State (7-10, 0-6) while Mike Watkins, Myles Dread and Josh Reaves each added 11 points for the Nittany Lions. Penn State was just 22 for 60 (.367) from the field and 5 for 22 (.227) on 3-pointers.
Michigan State entered the game with the top field-goal percentage defense in the Big Ten, and the first half provided plenty of evidence why the Spartans hold teams to 37 percent shooting from the field.
The Nittany Lions rarely got the ball on the block, often settling for deep 3-pointers. They made just 3 of 13 3-point shots and were only 10 for 32 overall as the Spartans pushed the lead to 18 when an Aaron Henry dunk put them up 37-19 with four minutes to go in the half.
The teams were tied 10-10 more than five minutes into the game before the Spartans went on an 18-4 run.