No. 2 Michigan State came into Allstate Arena and the ‘Cats absolutely blitzed them right out of the gate, going up by 27 points in the first half.
The second half, however, was somewhat different. Michigan State outscored Northwestern 38-11, and won 65-60. That comeback was the biggest ever in the Big Ten, and the largest this decade.
News broke before the game that the ‘Cats would be without their senior starting point guard Bryant McIntosh. McIntosh got hurt in the second half of their previous game against Rutgers, and the ‘Cats collapsed down the stretch en route to an overtime loss in Piscataway.
Saturday at Allstate initially appeared to be different story though. Starting first-year Anthony Gaines in McIntosh’s place provided a spark for the ‘Cats, as Gaines was active on both ends of the floor and the glass. He finished with 10 points, four rebounds and five assists.
“I think he showed today what’s to come of him. He’s a big part of our future,” Collins said.
However, in the second half the ‘Cats clearly missed McInosh’s leadership, especially on the offensive end. The ‘Cats did not score for over 10 minutes, and just could not get the lid off of the basket.
Vic Law was unconscious from deep in the first half, knocking down four of his seven three-point attempts, and he finished the half with 18 points on just nine shots to go along with four assists. Like the rest of the team though, he couldn’t get it going in the 2nd, shooting just 1-8.
“The defense let us down,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “Your defense is supposed to travel. Home and road.”
Michigan State struggled to get their stars going early, with potential lottery picks Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. combining for just four points on 2-8 shooting in the first half. However, Jackson picked it up in the 2nd half, finishing with 11 points
Cassius Winston also caught fire in the final 20 minutes, scoring 13 points on 4-5 shooting, 3-3 from deep.
“When you play a good team and they start to get rolling, sometimes it’s tough to bounce back,” Collins said.
The ‘Cats have two more games at Allstate Arena this season. They’ll host Maryland on Monday and then Wisconsin on Thursday. We’ll have both broadcasts on our mixlr page.