EVANSTON, Ill. — Boo Buie scored a career-high 30 points and Northwestern beat Michigan State for the first time in almost a decade, topping the No. 4 Spartans 79-65 on Sunday night.
Pete Nance added 15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in Northwestern’s biggest win since its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017. Freshman Ty Berry had 12 points in the Big Ten opener for each school, including three of the Wildcats’ 10 3-pointers.
Northwestern (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) stopped a 12-game slide in the series with its first victory over Michigan State since Jan. 14, 2012. It also was the Wildcats’ first win over a top-five team in the AP poll since an 83-65 victory over Magic Johnson and then-No. 4 Michigan State on Jan. 27, 1979.
This year’s Spartans looked rusty in their first game in a week and just their second overall since Dec. 7. They were supposed to play Virginia on Dec. 9, but that game was postponed because of COVID-19 issues with the Cavaliers.
Aaron Henry scored 11 points for Michigan State (6-1, 0-1), and Malik Hall finished with 10 points and nine boards. The Spartans shot just 39% (26 for 67) from the field.
Michigan State also had a scare when starting forward Joey Hauser left late in the first half with a left knee injury. But he returned early in the second half and finished with five points on 2-for-7 shooting.
Northwestern led by as many as 21 at 61-40 with 11:57 left. Michigan State responded with a 9-0 run, including a three-point play by Henry, but Berry steadied the Wildcats with a 3 with 8:47 remaining.
Buie hit four foul shots and a 3 in the final two minutes to help close it out. The sophomore guard went 9 for 15 from the field, including a 5-for-6 performance from beyond the arc.
Michigan State looked rusty early on and a fired-up Northwestern team took advantage. Buie, who scored a career-high 26 points in Northwestern’s 77-72 loss to Michigan State last December, hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the Wildcats a 34-23 lead with 3:34 left in the first half.
Nance made another 3 with 51 seconds left, helping Northwestern to a 43-30 lead at the break. The Spartans shot 35% (12 for 34) in the first half, compared to 52% (14 for 27) for the Wildcats.
Michigan State: It might have been the sporadic play early in the season, but the poor shooting could be a concern for coach Tom Izzo.
Northwestern: Nance’s play at the beginning of the game helped the Wildcats get off to a solid start, and they answered every charge by the Spartans.
Michigan State: Hosts No. 12 Wisconsin on Friday afternoon.
Northwestern: Visits Indiana on Wednesday night.