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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern fades late, picks up its first loss in 66-57 defeat to Mississippi State

Josh Hubbard caught fire, and the Wildcats couldn’t touch it.

NCAA Basketball: Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Championship Mark Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Same start, different story.

Although Northwestern (4-1, 0-0 B1G) raced out to a fast start for the second straight day, a late run from Mississippi State (5-0, 0-0 SEC) put the Wildcats away in a 66-57 loss in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off final in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Josh Hubbard, a freshman, erupted against the ‘Cats. He poured in 29 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including four threes. The only other Mississippi State scorer in double figures was Dashawn Davis, who scored 11 points on a 4-of-7 clip from the field.

For the Wildcats, Ty Berry led the way with 14 points, three three-pointers, four rebounds and four steals, shooting 5-of-13 overall. Brooks Barnhizer and Ryan Langborg each contributed 13 points, while Boo Buie scored nine points on 4-of-14 shooting. Northwestern shot just 37.7% from the field as a team.

After Matthew Nicholson won the jump ball, Langborg knocked in a midrange shot and a corner three on the next possession. Ty Berry connected from three and Northwestern began with a quick 8-0 run. Buie continued the hot start with a three to make it 11-0. Hubbard ended the Bulldogs’ scoring drought with a three, but the ‘Cats were up 11-3 at the under-16. They had already scored six points off of Mississippi State’s three turnovers.

After forcing another turnover, Nick Martinelli made a hook shot to extend the lead to 15-3. Northwestern’s hustle was evident, as it had forced five turnovers and outrebounded the taller Bulldogs heading into under-12.

Mississippi State made two threes to cut the lead, but Barnhizer responded with a mid-range jumper of his own to bring the lead to 19-9. However, Nicholson picked up his second foul a few possessions later. With he and Blake Preston with two fouls apiece, the ‘Cats had to go further down the bench and brought in Luke Hunger. The momentum shifted when Hunger came in, and Mississippi State got to within six.

Out of the timeout, Hunger scored his first points of the season on a driving layup. But, Hubbard responded with a three to make it 21-16. Northwestern answered once again by forced a tenth turnover, holding a seven-point edge going into the under-four.

Following that stoppage, Buie made a runner and brought the lead to 25-16 with three minutes to go in the half. Continuing the back-and-forth pace, though, Shawn Jones Jr. beat Martinelli to the basket for an and-one and the score was 25-22. The teams exchanged baskets in the closing seconds of the half and after a Hubbard three, Northwestern led by a slim lead of 29-27.

After scoring three points in the first nine minutes of the half, the Bulldogs closed with 24 points in the final 11 minutes. Hubbard caught fire and scored 16 points in the first half. Mississippi State came into the game shooting 31.8% from three, but shot 45.5% in the first half from distance. However, Northwestern’s defensive pressure was solid, and it forced 11 turnovers. Barnhizer and Buie, in foul trouble, had to spend the final two minutes of the first half on the bench, and Mississippi State took advantage.

Coming out of the break, Langborg knocked down a midrange jumper. Buie made a high-arcing floater to make it 33-27. After Cameron Matthews made a lay-up, Buie converted another floater. Not to be outdone, Davis drained a three and Hubbard scored two more; the lead was down to 35-34 with 15:55 to go.

Berry nailed a three out of the timeout, but Davis responded with one of his own. Davis then connected with a midrange at the shot clock buzzer to give Mississippi State its first lead of the game. Langborg responded with a two and Berry put home a three to give Northwestern a 43-39 lead. At the under-12, the ‘Cats were in front by two.

Out of the timeout, both teams missed contested threes. They both struggled to score until Shakeel Moore made a great fake, leading to a dunk that gave Mississippi State a 44-43 lead. D.J. Jeffries added to the output with a midrange jumper, though Barnhizer kept the Wildcats within one after a goaltended layup with 7:48 left in the game.

Barnhizer nailed a three and the ‘Cats took a 48-47 lead. From there, though, the Bulldogs seized momentum. They went on a quick 9-0, highlighted by a Hubbard three that gave his team its largest lead of the afternoon. Moore made another layup, and Northwestern took a timeout, down by eight.

Hubbard made another floater, and the ‘Cats trailed 58-49 with 3:48 to go. After a lay-up from Barnhizer, the freshman knocked down a midrange and two more free throws. Barnhizer continued his assertiveness with another two, but it was looking bleak with the Wildcats down 64-53 with two minutes to go.

From there, Mississippi State closed out the game without much trouble, handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season.

Northwestern will have next week off before continuing its non-conference slate against Northern Illinois on Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. CT. The game, at Welsh-Ryan Arena, will be broadcast on Big Ten Plus.