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Northwestern basketball fights backs before falling to No. 10 Michigan State 71-61

Updated: March 10, 2013 10:16PM

EAST LANSING, Mich. — This was one Big Ten title Michigan State coach Tom Izzo could live without.

Needing help from rival Michigan for a chance to share the conference crown, the No. 10 Spartans instead settled for a tie for second place. Michigan State beat Northwestern 71-61 on Sunday, but it already had been eliminated from the championship race when Indiana beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.

‘‘Sure, I would have liked to have another Big Ten championship, but I like getting them when I earn them,’’ Izzo said. ‘‘I don’t need anybody else earning them for me.’’

Keith Appling scored 16 points, Gary Harris 12 and Derrick Nix 10 in his final home game for the Spartans (24-7,
13-5), who struggled to put away the undermanned Wildcats
(13-18, 4-14). Northwestern rallied from a 13-point deficit in the first half to tie the score at 51
before Michigan State righted the ship.

The Spartans held a ceremony for the departing Nix after the game, and Izzo did his best to fire up the crowd, even though Michigan State fell short of the conference title.

‘‘You’ve got yourself a blue-
collar coach who hasn’t been
given anything,’’ Izzo told the fans. ‘‘And I don’t want anything from anyone else in this state.’’

Kale Abrahamson scored 16 points, Alex Marcotullio and Tre Demps 11 each and Alex Olah 10 for the Wildcats, who were
7-for-27 from three-point range on their way to losing their eighth consecutive game.

‘‘To beat that team, you have to be 12-for-27,’’ Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. ‘‘You can’t be 7-for-27.’’

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