By: John Beers
Tom Izzo has been in the business a long time and even in the midst of a rough patch, it was expected that the Spartans would come into Welsh-Ryan Arena ready to play.
The same could not be said for the Northwestern Wildcats, whose offense struggled mightily in a 76-45 loss to the #12 Spartans.
Trailing by 12 at halftime, the Spartans opened up the floodgates in the second half, pouring on three-pointer after three-pointer to stretch the lead out to 28 at one point.
The story of Northwestern’s night could perhaps be best summed up in the play of its senior captain. Tre Demps has been no stranger to bad performances this season, but Thursday night against Michigan State may have been his worst. Demps went 2-14 from the field including 0-7 from beyond the arc and finished more turnovers (3) than made buckets.
Valentine and Davis a force to be reckoned with
Everyone knew coming in that Denzel Valentine was a force to be reckoned with, and he proved that time and time again against the Wildcats. The senior finished with 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds. He continually hit deep three after deep three, ending the night going 5-7 from deep.
Perhaps not as much of a household name is freshman forward Deyonta Davis, but he certainly showed up and showed out in Evanston on Thursday. The big man finished with 11 rebounds and six blocks, to go along eight points on 4-7 shooting.
Spartans light it up from deep.
In addition to Valentine’s night from deep, the entire Spartans team was absolutely lethal from the beyond the arc. The team combined to shoot 16-26 from three-point land to post a clip of almost 62%. Valentine led the way was his five, but was also joined by the trio of Matt McQuaid (5-8 3ptFG), Bryn Forbes (3-3), and Eron Harris (2-6).
McIntosh uncharacteristically quite.
Sophomore Bryant McIntosh has earned himself the reputation of coming up big in big games from the Wildcats, and early this season was a leading candidate for a spot on the All-Big Ten first team. That momentum seems to have left him as Northwestern’s team leader had his worst shooting night of the season. McIntosh was 4-15 from the field, continually having his shots rim out. While he did shoot 2-5 from beyond the arc and made all of his four free throws, he could not provide the spark the Wildcats needed to stay in the game, registering his lowest assist total of the season to go along with his poor shooting form.
Wildcats go cold from everywhere.
Northwestern finished 12-58 from the field to post just under 21% shooting for the night. It took until late into the second half from them to reach double digits in made field goals and for almost the entire game Michigan State had more made threes than Northwestern had made baskets period. McIntosh was the Cats leading scorer despite needing 15 shots to put up 14 points, and only Jordan Ash and Derek Pardon (both 1-2) had a shooting percentage above 33%.