East Lansing, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Adreian Payne scored 20 points with 14 rebounds as No. 9 Michigan State took an 85-70 win over Northwestern in a Big Ten battle on Thursday.
Denzel Valentine had 16 points with six assists and five rebounds for the Spartans (21-4, 10-2 Big Ten), who were coming off a two-point loss to Wisconsin on Sunday and are now tied with Michigan for the top spot in the conference.
"We did some good things, but we didn't guard like we normally guard and they shot 46 percent and 37 [percent] from the three," said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. "That was the only disappointing part."
JerShon Cobb led all scored with 22 points and added seven rebounds for the Wildcats (12-13, 5-7), who have dropped their past two. Drew Crawford had 18 points and seven helpers in the loss.
"They're just a very difficult team to play against because they have weapons from all over the court, especially now because last time we played them they didn't have the element of (Adreian) Payne in the paint where he causes you to help so much," said Northwestern head coach Chris Collins.
Northwestern kept the first half close for much of the time, and tied the game several times, with Tre Demps' 3-pointer getting Northwestern to within one, 23-22, with just over nine minutes to play.
Matt Costello, though, turned a three-point play to start a 13-3 run and that helped Michigan State take a 39-30 lead into the break.
The Spartans scored the first seven points of the second half, capped on an Payne 3-pointer for a quick 46-30 lead.
Northwestern kept the game from getting out of hand for the next couple of minutes, and a jumper from Alex Olah cut the deficit to 58-46 with under 14 minutes to play.
Michigan State, though, scored the next seven points for a 19-point lead and Northwestern got no closer than 11 back the rest of the way.
It was the 15th double-double for Payne in his career ... Demps finished with 18 points in the loss ... Northwestern hosts Minnesota on Sunday ... Michigan State hosts Nebraska on Sunday ... Michigan State has won seven of the last eight games against Northwestern.