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No. 2 Michigan State matches largest comeback in a decade with 27-point rally over Northwestern

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Michigan State overcame a 27-point deficit on Saturday afternoon to beat Northwestern, 65-60, for a memorable Big Ten road win. It’s the biggest comeback win in Big Ten history while also matching the largest college basketball comeback of the last decade.

Trailing by 22 points at halftime and by 18 points with 14 minutes left, the comeback for the Spartans was slow and methodical at first, as Michigan State’s defense slowly suffocated the Wildcat offense.

And when the jumpers started falling with a Josh Langford (eight points) three with a little over 13 minutes left, the Spartans made their big push.

Sophomore point guard Cassius Winston was a major catalyst in the comeback for Michigan State as he buried multiple top-of-the-key threes and pull-up jumpers to help give the Spartans a new-found confidence. Winston finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as he came through in a major way in the second half. With star Miles Bridges (eight points) battling foul trouble in the second half, Winston and other Michigan State role players stepped up in a big way. Big man Nick Ward grinded to 15 points and a lot of key stops on the defensive end. Matt McQuaid knocked down some big shots while taking a charge and playing well on both ends. Jaren Jackson had the go-ahead three-point play to finally give the Spartans their first lead.

This was a team comeback in which Michigan State (26-3, 14-2) used the sum of its parts to slowly dismantle Northwestern. It was one of the more impressive comebacks in recent memory. Doing commentary for Fox, Steve Lavin said this was one of the biggest one-half swings in his 30 years of being around Division I basketball. The win probability chart for this game is definitely unique.

While beating Northwestern isn’t some sort of monumental achievement this season, Michigan State didn’t have a huge comeback win this season. The biggest deficit that the Spartans had overcome to win this season was only 13 points. Now we know that Michigan State is capable of making a comeback from a very large deficit as they showed they’re capable of coming through with the offensive firepower. And Bridges, the team’s leading scorer, only had two field goals.

This is the Michigan State we’ve wanted to consistently see this season. Michigan State getting stops is nothing new. The Spartans held Northwestern scoreless for over 11 minutes at one point in the second half as the Wildcats were brutal shooting the ball in the first half. But if Michigan State’s offense gets rolling like that because of balanced inside/outside contributions from role players? That’s the Spartans everyone keeps hoping will show up in March.

Northwestern forward Mike Turner takes leave of absence from program

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First-year head coach Chris Collins has made quite a splash in his first few months on the job. Recruiting has picked up, with the Wildcats landing verbal commitments from guards Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh and forward Gavin Skelly. With the success on the recruiting trail, the most important question to be answered is whether or not Collins is the man capable of leading the Wildcats to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.

Northwestern will be able to begin practicing with an eye towards that goal on September 27, but they’ll do so without the services of 6-8 forward Mike Turner. Turner is taking a leave of absence from the program, but will remain in school during this period.

“Mike will take some time away from the program to focus on aspects of his life other than basketball,” Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said in the release. “He has our complete support and we will revisit his status within the program once the time is appropriate.”

Turner played just under 16 minutes per game in 2012-13, posting averages of 1.9 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. One of his best performances came in a 69-59 loss at Ohio State on Valentine’s Day, as he accounted for four points, four rebounds and a game-high eight assists. Turner’s season high for points in a game was seven, with that outing coming in a loss at Purdue in late-February.

Losing Turner doesn’t sap Northwestern’s depth, especially when considering the fact that both Drew Crawford (injury; 13.5 ppg and 4.6 rpg in ten games last season) and JerShon Cobb (suspension; 7.1 ppg in 2011-12) are back in the fold. Crawford, who was a third team All-Big Ten selection as a junior, was sidelined after ten games due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Other players in the running for playing time on the wing include redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin, sophomore Kale Abrahamson (4.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg) and freshman Nate Taphorn.

CSN Chicago: Duke’s Chris Collins could be hired by Northwestern within 36 hours


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Close to two weeks after firing head coach Bill Carmody, Northwestern has “zeroed in” on Duke associate head coach Chris Collins and could hire him within 36 hours, David Kaplan of is reporting.

According to the report, Northwestern has conducted a handful of interviews and Collins has emerged as the favorite of athletic director Jim Phillips.

If Collins were to be hired, he would reportedly remain on the Duke bench through the end of the Blue Devils’ run in the NCAA tournament, then join Northwestern. Duke beat Creighton on Sunday in the Round of 32 to advance to the Sweet 16.

Kaplan highlights a comparison between Northwestern’s two premier athletic programs and how it helped to draw Collins to the front of the pack of prospective hires:

He is very much in the mold of Northwestern’s football coach Pat Fitzgerald — who is approximately the same age as Collins — and he is considered a similar personality to Fitzgerald, who is beloved on the Northwestern campus.

Northwestern finished the 2012-13 season with an overall record of 13-19, including 4-14 in the Big Ten. Since Carmody’s firing, Top 100 guard and Northwestern commit Jaren Sina has reopened his recruitment and is considering schools that include Seton Hall and Alabama. It is yet to be seen whether one of the biggest recruits in recent memory for the Wildcats will ever set foot on the floor in Evanston in a Northwestern jersey.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Northwestern’s Jared Swopshire out for the year after knee surgery

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Northwestern graduate student and Louisville transfer Jared Swopshire has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will miss the rest of the season, the school announced Tuesday.

Swopshire went down with an injury in the second half of Northwestern’s loss to Iowa on Saturday and did not return.

“We all feel badly for Jared that he won’t be able to play out the remainder of his final collegiate season,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said in a statement Tuesday. “He has been a terrific addition to the program, both on and off the court. He was enjoying a very productive year and was playing his most consistent basketball of the season when the injury occurred. There is every indication that he’ll experience a full recovery.”

Since coming to Northwestern, Swopshire’s minutes had nearly doubled and he responded with production. Before the injury, he had been averaging 9.7 points and was the team’s leading rebounder with 6.7 boards per game.

He has had to deal with season-ending injuries before during his college career, having missed the entire 2010-11 season with a groin injury. Without him, Northwestern will have an even more uphill battle in the tough Big Ten. The Wildcats return to the floor on Thursday against No. 13 Ohio State.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Northwestern supsends JerShon Cobb for season

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Friday evening, Northwestern announced that junior guard JerShon Cobb would miss the entire 2012-2013 season for violations of team policy.

“There are standards that each student-athlete is expected to uphold,”  said Northwestern coach Bill Carmody in a statement. “JerShon has our complete support as he works to fulfill those expectations and we look forward to having him rejoin the program in a full capacity in the future.”

The press release also stated Cobb is still enrolled at Northwestern and will maintain two years of eligibility.

The Wildcats are still in search of the program’s first bid to the NCAA Tournament and it won’t get easier missing Cobb for the entire season.

The 6-foot-5 Cobb averaged 7.1 points per game for Northwestern in 21 games. Cobb would have had a bigger role in this year’s team, after losing John Shurna. Without Shurna and Cobb, the Wildcats still return three of the four leading scorers from a season ago – Drew Crawford (16.1), Dave Sobolewski (8.3), and Reggie Hearn (7.4).

Northwestern also adds Louisville-transfer, Jared Swoopshire, who will use his last year of eligibility this season.

The Wildcats were on the bubble last season, but had to settle for the NIT. Northwestern finished 19-14, before falling to Washington in the second round of the NIT.

Terrence is also the lead writer at and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Have Jaren Sina and Nate Taphorn laid the groundwork for Northwestern’s future?

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After narrowly missing another NCAA tournament in 2011-12, it was debated after the season whether Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody would get another shot in Evanston.

He was granted that time and, so far, he’s capitalized.

After grabbing a commitment from Top 75 guard Jaren Sina, Carmody reeled in another recruit this past week with a commitment coming from 6-7 forward and Illinois native Nate Taphorn.

Sina, formerly an Alabama commit, becomes perhaps the Wildcats’ biggest recruit in a decade, while the John Shurna comparisons for Taphorn won’t end any time soon.

With these two guys set to be in Wildcats uniforms for the start of the 2013-14 season, it seems that losing John Shurna to graduation won’t necessarily hurt the Northwestern program long-term as much as once thought.

Credit not only goes to Carmody, but to the staff around him, as well.

Were it not for assistant Fred Hill, formerly the head coach at Rutgers and a guy regarded as one of the Northeast’s elite recruiters, Sina would be elsewhere. As detailed in this article from The Hoop Group, Hill tirelessly wrote handwritten letters to Sina to lure him to Northwestern.

Taphorn is an elite shooter and, though most of his other offers were from Missouri Valley-type schools, he fits as well into the system at Northwestern as a forward as Sina does at the point guard position.

While Taphorn and Sina play out their final high school years in 2012-13, the Wildcats will bring in four recruits from the Class of 2012, led by Kale Abrahamson, a 6-7 native of West Des Moines, Ia.

The toughest task will be replacing Shurna, whose 19.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game were both team-highs.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_