With just over five minutes to play Sunday, the Northwestern Wildcats (13-18) tied the game with No. 10 Michigan State (24-7) at 53. The Spartans went on a 18-8 run to put the game out of reach and win 71-61.
On Senior Day at the Breslin Center, Michigan State's lone senior, center Derrick Nix, had 10 points, six assists and four rebounds in his final game in East Lansing. Coach Tom Izzo removed Nix from the game with 1:03 left and Michigan State up nine so Nix could observe the tradition of kissing the Spartan logo at midcourt before exiting the game to a standing ovation.
Keith Appling led Michigan State with 16 points. Gary Harris scored 12 points and Adreian Payne scored 11 points. Michigan State shot 66 percent from the field, but 12 turnovers by Michigan State to just seven by Northwestern helped the Wildcats stay in the game.
Kale Abrahamson scored 16 points to lead Northwestern. Tre Demps and Alex Marcotullio scored 11 points each and Alex Olah scored 10 points. Northwestern shot just 42 percent and 24 percent from three-point range.
Michigan State will be the No. 3 seed in next weekend's Big Ten Tournament and Northwestern will be the No. 11 seed.