No. 1 Michigan State’s trip to Boston to take on Northeastern wasn’t expected to be an easy one, as the Huskies are an experienced and talented group that picked up a win at No. 15 Miami earlier this season. And that’s how things played out at the start, with Bill Coen’s team dominating the boards and controlling the tempo.
But after a sloppy first ten minutes Tom Izzo’s team played at the level one would expect of the nation’s best team, going on to win 78-58 in a game shown on NBCSN.
At one point in the first half Northeastern had more offensive rebounds (nine) than Michigan State had total rebounds (five), with Zach Stahl and Kwesi Akabah proving particularly difficult for the Spartans to keep off the glass. But once Michigan State’s front court managed to complete defensive possessions with a rebound the Spartans were able to get out in the open floor and increase the game’s tempo, turning a tight game into a comfortable victory by game’s end.
Denzel Valentine accounted for 17 points, five rebounds and six assists, and by game’s end Michigan State finished with more second chance points than Northeastern (14-13). Add in 14 points off of 12 Northeastern turnovers, and Michigan State moved one win (12-0) closer to producing the best start in program history. Offensively the Spartans shot nearly 56 percent from the field and had three players reach double figures, with Bryn Forbes (12 points) and Tum Tum Nairn (11) joining Valentine.
Also of note for Michigan State was the return of forward Gavin Schilling, who missed the first 11 games due to injury. Schilling played just 11 minutes, producing four points and three rebounds, but he was the team’s best big man during their summer trip to Italy and his return gives the Spartans another option to call upon inside. That will be key for them moving forward, as he’ll join a rotation that includes fellow veteran Matt Costello and freshmen Deyonta Davis and Kenny Goins.
Michigan State’s first-shot defense was very good Saturday afternoon, as Northeastern shot just 37.3 percent from the field with David Walker scoring 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting. But the game didn’t change in their favor until the Spartans got back to cleaning up the defensive glass as they had in the 11 games prior, and that attention to detail will be key as Michigan State plays games of even greater magnitude later in the season.
One of Saturday’s most interesting games will be featured on NBCSN and the NBC Sports Live Extra app in a 12:30 p.m. ET tip as Michigan State, the No. 1 team in the country, will head up to Beantown to take on Northeastern in a true road game. How often does that happen? The game is part of another cool event that Spartan AD Mark Hollis dreamed up, as Michigan State will be playing a triple-header in men’s hoops, women’s hoops and hockey against the Huskies.
The Spartans (11-0) are led by triple-double threat Denzel Valentine while Northeastern (7-3) will rely on the scoring capabilities of guard David Walker.
CLICK HERE to watch this game on NBC Sports Live Extra Saturday afternoon.
Monday’s CAA tournament title game will match two teams desperately looking to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. While William & Mary’s drought has been much-publicized, as they’ve never played in the NCAA tournament, Northeastern’s looking to end a drought of more than two decades. Sunday evening Bill Coen’s Huskies beat UNCW 78-71 to advance to the title game, and a win over the Tribe would result in their first NCAA tournament trip since 1991.
Forward Scott Eatherton, a first team all-CAA selection, led the way with 21 points while also grabbing five rebounds and blocking three shots. Just as important for Northeastern was the 33 points they received from reserves, as Devon Begley, Caleb Donnelly and Reggie Spencer scored 11 points apiece. Starting guard David Walker also scored 11 points for Northeastern, and he also contributed eight rebounds and five assists.
UNCW’s Jordan Talley led three Seahawks in double figures with 18 points, with fellow guards Craig Ponder (17 points, five rebounds, three assists) and Addison Spruill (12 points, four rebounds) being the other double-digit scorers. Monday’s title game begins at 7:00 p.m. and can be seen on NBCSN.
Northeastern freshman guard Devon Begley picked up a steal near mid-court against the College of Charleston on Saturday and beat the entire Cougar defense back for the layup.
But Begley still had to compete with a mop boy who wasn’t paying attention to the quick nature of the play. Begley finished the play and ended the game with five points in a 65-56 win for the Huskies.
(Vine credit: Joe Wright)
William & Mary entered Saturday’s game against Northeastern one game behind the Huskies in the CAA standings, and after their loss at Delaware on Wednesday this was a game Tony Shaver’s team had to get. And thanks to a balanced offensive effort the Tribe picked up the win, beating Northeastern 78-62 with Omar Prewitt leading four starters in double figures with 19 points.
Sean Sheldon and Tony Tarpley added 15 points apiece, with Tarpley also grabbing eight rebounds, and senior guard Marcus Thornton scored 13 as William & Mary pulled even with the Huskies at 6-2 in CAA play. Quincy Ford led Northeastern with 17 points and Scott Eatherton added 12, but the Huskies’ struggles from beyond the arc proved too much to overcome.
Northeastern, which is shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc for the season, made just two of its twenty attempts on the afternoon. By comparison, William & Mary (the CAA’s best three-point shooting team) made six of its nineteen attempts.
Two of the best teams in the CAA will play on Saturday afternoon as Northeastern (14-6, 6-1) hits the road to play William & Mary (11-7, 5-2).
The Huskies are led by senior forward Scott Eatherton, as he’s averaging 15 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field.
William & Mary will counter with senior guard Marcus Thornton, who is one of the most underrated scorers in the country. The 6-foot-4 Thornton is having another stellar season as he’s averaging 19.4 points per game on 46 percent shooting from the field and 3-point range.
You can see the game at 2:00 p.m. on NBCSN. It will also be streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.