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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern protects second-half lead, downs No. 4 Michigan State 79-65

Is this revenge for football?

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

It happened. They actually held on. Maybe this is the win that turns things around.

Northwestern (4-1) upended No. 4 Michigan State (6-1) 79-65 in a massive upset for its first win against an AP top-five opponent since 1979, snapping a 12-game Spartan win streak in the series that dates back to 2012.

Just like last year against the Spartans, when he scored 26 points in 26 minutes, Boo Buie led the Wildcats with a career-high 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting (5-of-6 3PT).

True freshman Ty Berry added 12 points and three steals while Pete Nance recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Michigan State moved the ball well and got plenty of good looks but struggled to convert, shooting 41% from the field and 8-of-28 from downtown. The Wildcats limited Josh Langford, Joey Hauser and Rocket Watts to a combined 19 points on the night and held their own on the glass, as NU out-rebounded MSU 32-31.

For the first few minutes of the game, the two teams seemed neck-and-neck before Northwestern picked up the tempo and surged ahead. Pete Nance put up a quick four points to tie the game early on, which soon turned into an 11-point run for NU, as Chase Audige and Miller Kopp added to the total, putting the ‘Cats up by seven.

The Spartans, who came into the game shooting 36.4% from three, started 0-for-6 from beyond the arc before Malik Hall and Gabe Brown put up a pair for the Spartans.

MSU’s shots began to fall and they slowly started to close the gap, but the Wildcats continued to execute offensively — with seven different scorers contributing in the first 12 minutes — and led 25-18 at the under-eight timeout.

Sophomore Robbie Beran was at the head of the defensive effort for the Wildcats, locking down Spartan leader Joey Hauser, who has averaged over 23 points per game. Audige played a role as well, leading the team with two steals in the first half.

The offensive pace was impressive for the ‘Cats, who have picked it up this season, cutting their average possession time by four seconds. Northwestern took a 13-point lead into halftime, marking the first time this season the Spartans have trailed going into the final 20 minutes.

Boo Buie was on fire again to start off the second half, adding a quick eight points in the first five minutes. Michigan State began to pick it up, going on a six-point run in just over two minutes, but the Wildcats quickly responded with an 11-0 run of its own to make it a 21-point lead with under 12 minutes to play.

The half continued with back-and-forth play as Aaron Henry helped the Spartans cut the NU lead to 12, combining with Hauser and Foster Loyer for nine unanswered points. Luckily for the ‘Cats, freshman Ty Berry interrupted the run with a three, his third of the night off the bench and NU maintained their double-digit lead. Langford fouled out with 6:52 to play.

Collins’ team held on for the final few minutes to complete one of the biggest upsets of the century for NU, with Buie hitting a bank three for the exclamation point.

Northwestern looks to build off this monumental win on the road against Indiana (5-2) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. CT.