Northwestern (8-10, 1-4) fell to No. 4 Michigan State (16-1, 5-0) 54-40 on Wednesday night. After hanging with the Spartans for most of the game, Michigan State eventually pulled away over the final minutes.
Alex Olah in the post
With Michigan State center Adreian Payne sidelined with a foot injury, Alex Olah had the opportunity to take advantage of a weakened Spartan front line.
After scoring on his first possession in the post, Olah was never able to establish a rhythm down low. There were too many times where he caught the ball in the post and began to dribble without making any progress toward the basket. When Olah, or most developing big men for that matter, puts the ball on the floor while remaining stationary, it allows for the defense to send a guard to swipe at the ball.
Michigan State took advantage of Olah's ball handling, forcing him into three turnovers. The sophomore big man also finished with four points on 2-5 shooting and grabbed just three rebounds.
Overall, this game is just another blip in Olah's development as more experience will improve his court awareness.
Where was Drew Crawford?
Drew Crawford got off to another slow start as he scored just two points on 1-6 shooting in the first half. But Northwestern was able to hang in there during the opening 20 minutes as they went into halftime down by just four.
Through the first 10 minutes of the second half, Crawford only added a pair of free throws to his scoring output.
Crawford scored just six points in the contest on just 1-8 from the field. He also committed four turnovers in 39 minutes.
Without Crawford's scoring, Northwestern will struggle to keep up with teams in Big Ten play.
As is usually the case, Sanjay Lumpkin made just one shot against Michigan State. But Lumpkin always finds ways to impact a game despite having almost no significant offensive role.
The freshman forward finished the game with six rebounds and two blocks.
Here's one of the blocks, which led to a Kale Abrahamson three on the other end:
Following an upset over Illinois on Sunday, Northwestern was able to respond against one of the best teams in the country as the Wildcats hung with Michigan State for most of the game.
Defensively, Northwestern held the Spartans to just 54 total points as Michigan State came into the game averaging 82.2 points per game (23rd in the nation).
Northwestern, though, wasn't able to score consistently enough to challenge Michigan State in the second half. Tre Demps led Northwestern with 12 points and was the only Northwestern player to score in double digits.
Although Michigan State ended up pulling away over the final portion of the game to win by 14, Chris Collins has both positive and coachable moments to point to moving forward.