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Northwestern-Michigan State press conference notes

The Wildcats were able to battle back and keep it close after falling behind early in East Lansing

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, Northwestern (12-3, 1-1) saw its nine game winning streak snapped as they fell 61-52 to the Michigan State Spartans (10-5, 2-0) at the Breslin Center. The Wildcats fell behind by as many as 19 points early but were able to battle back throughout the rest of the game and cut the deficit in the second half to as little as four points.

Here’s what Chris Collins and Tom Izzo had to say after the game.

Chris Collins

“Seemed like a good ole fashioned Big Ten game tonight, that was two teams playing really hard. It kind of became a slugfest in terms of the scoring and the pace. But I thought Michigan State was just a little tougher than we were tonight.”

On the Wildcats’ slow start: “We got off to a really tough start and their energy was very apparent to start the game. We allowed them to get out to transition, which is what they do best, dug ourselves a 19 point hole and to our guys credit I thought we really battled and got it back to 48-44.”

On Michigan State’s defense: “I thought they defended us well the whole night. They had great energy, they were very physical on the boards–certainly the 16 rebound differential was a factor.

On Northwestern’s performance: “I felt like our effort was there, we didn’t quite shoot the ball that well and still kept it within distance but we’ve gotta learn from the game. It’s a long season in the Big Ten. I don’t think anyone’s gonna go 18-0. So you’ve gotta try your best every night, see what you can do and regroup and get ready for the next one and that’s what we intend to do.”

On the team’s foul trouble: “Ward is a problem down low because he commands double teams. He fouled both our big guys out. And we were a man short not having Pardon so that was him getting Benson and Skelly in major foul trouble, it forced us to have to play real small for a major stretch in the game.”

On Nick Ward: “You have to try to do your best to not give him deep post catches, if he catches it within two feet in the lane it’s going to be really hard because it’s hard to send help and he’s so powerful and he draws fouls so well. You try to push him off the block the best you did and we were sending doubles...We had great respect for what he could do one on one down there and we wanted to try to take our chances for him to kick it out.”

On the team’s scoring droughts: “I think part of it was they were playing pretty good defense, they were doing a good job taking us out of what we wanted to do, making guys take tough shots, getting them out of their comfort zone. It was hard for us because we were playing so small so it was hard to get anything down low or in the paint.”

On Gavin Skelly: “We need Gavin, he’s been a big key to what we’re doing, he’s a double figure scorer for us. So him only being able to play 12 minutes I thought was a big factor tonight because he’s a big function of what we’ve been doing offensively, his ability to space the floor.”

On what surprised him from the small lineup with Lumpkin at center: “They were just fighting, they were scrapping and that’s all you can do if you’re a little bit undermanned and undersized, you gotta just fight. That’s never gonna be an issue with Lumpkin, that’s just who he is, that’s what he’s done his whole career. The problem when you’re fighting up hill is you get tired... A lot of the times you see that, teams expend a lot of energy to get back into the game and they have nothing left to finish the game and I think that was part of it as well.”

Tom Izzo

On Michigan State’s play: “I thought defensively we were pretty good most of the night, I thought offensively we played so good in the first half and so poor the second half and I think Northwestern deserves some credit for that.”

On Northwestern’s performance: “I love his (Collins’) team, I think they have two of the best wing combinations in the Big Ten in Law and Lindsey...Trust me when I say this, this was a big win for us against a very good team that’s very disciplined and experienced and very well coached.”