The Norman Transcript

National Sports

January 16, 2014

Spartans win ninth straight

EVANSTON, Ill. — Gary Harris scored 14 points and No. 4 Michigan State beat Northwestern 54-40 on Wednesday night for its ninth straight win.

The preseason favorite to win the Big Ten, the Spartans (16-1, 5-0 Big Ten) continue to roll along, although it was hardly an easy night for them. They overcame a sluggish start and pulled away down the stretch even though they struggled in a big way from the outside.

They were 2 of 16 on 3-pointers with Harris missing all six and Keith Appling going 0 for 3. Harris did have four steals, and Appling managed to score 11 points.

Branden Dawson, fighting an illness, had 11 rebounds and three blocks, and the Spartans came away with the win even though they were missing one of their top players in Adreian Payne. The 6-foot-10 forward sat out his second straight game because of a sprained right foot, but Michigan State had enough to get by in this one.

Tre Demps did his best to keep Northwestern (8-10, 1-4) in the game, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the second half, but leading scorer Drew Crawford never got going. He managed just six points with Denzel Valentine guarding him most of the game, and the Wildcats came up short after beating then-No. 23 Illinois on Sunday night to give new coach Chris Collins his first Big Ten victory.

They haven’t knocked off a top five team since they took out fourth-ranked Michigan State on Jan. 27, 1979.

Coming off back-to-back overtime wins against Ohio State and Minnesota, Michigan State probably could have used a breather. The problem was the Spartans had trouble sustaining a run.

No. 24 Saint Louis 66, St. Bonaventure 60: ST. LOUIS — Dwayne Evans scored 18 points and No. 24 Saint Louis won its first game since breaking into the Top 25 for the first time, holding off St. Bonaventure 66-60 on Wednesday night.

Jordair Jett scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half for Saint Louis (16-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10), which has won 10 in a row. The start is the school’s best since the 1993-94 team was 19-1.

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