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EAST LANSING — For the second time in four days, No. 9 Michigan State basketball found itself in a fight at home with one of the Big Ten’s cellar-dwellers.
Turning the ball over. Giving up offensive rebounds. Fighting to find production from its post players.
Another wild ending.
Marcus Bingham Jr. was fouled with 0.7 seconds to play, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free-throw situation, and Northwestern handed the Spartans their first Big Ten loss of the season, 64-62, on Saturday afternoon at Breslin Center.
That ended a nine-game win streak for No. 9 MSU (14-3, 5-1 Big Ten) and a brutal day for Bingham. The senior center scored two points with two rebounds and two blocks in 12 minutes.
Julius Marble II's career-high 18 points on 7-for-7 shooting led the Spartans, with Malik Hall and Gabe Brown each scoring 10. Tyson Walker had eight assists and four points, but the Spartans committed 17 turnovers, 12 in the first half, that led to 16 points for the Wildcats.
Northwestern (9-6, 2-4) ended a four-game losing streak and won at MSU for the first time since 2009. The Wildcats dominated with 17 offensive rebounds and had a 16-10 edge in second-chance points.
Ryan Young had 18 points and eight rebounds for Northwestern, while Chase Audige added 14 points and seven rebounds and Boo Buie finished with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists.
MSU took a brief lead midway through the second half, but the Wildcats kept answering and controlling the boards. Northwestern went up 62-56 on Young’s three-point play with 2:43 to play, but Max Christie made a pair of free throws and Marble hit a hook shot with 1:35 left to cut it to 62-60.
Buie and Marble traded two free throws, and the Spartans got a stop on defense to give themselves a chance to tie or take the lead. Hall missed a 3-pointer with 4 seconds to play, but Buie and Robbie Beran both grabbed the rebound and walked to give MSU another chance with one second to play.
Joey Hauser inbounded and lobbed a pass to Bingham. Beran fouled him going for the tip, but Bingham’s first attempt at the line missed. He entered the game as a 70.7% free-throw shooter.
The Spartans had a second straight sluggish start against the Wildcats, who took a 33-26 halftime lead in their first meeting Jan. 2 in Evanston, Illinois, before MSU rallied to a 73-67 win.
This time, MSU couldn’t stop turning the ball over, with five in the first 8 minutes spiraling into 12 by halftime. Northwestern took advantage and scored 10 points off them. And despite playing without leading scorer Pete Nance, who sat out with an injury, the Wildcats dominated in the paint early and made six of their first nine 3-point attempts and finished the half with seven 3s.
MSU struggled to generate consistency on offense with egregious giveaways despite shooting 50% in the first half. The Spartans failed to attack Nance-less Northwestern in the paint early until Marble was aggressive late to finish the half with eight points.
However, MSU went without a field goal over the final 4:47 of the half, and the Wildcats closed on an 8-3 run to take a 38-33 lead into the locker room. Brown had eight points on 3-for-7 shooting with four rebounds to lead the Spartans, who got outrebounded 18-15 in the half.
Brown and Marble scored the first four points of the second half to give MSU some early momentum and cut Northwestern’s lead to a point. But the Spartans’ lifeless defense and rebounding woes continued as the Wildcats had four offensive boards in the first 3 1/2 minutes and scored six straight points to build a 46-39 lead.
But Hauser hit a momentum-shifting 3-pointer, and A.J. Hoggard followed with a driving layup in transition to cauterize the Spartans’ bleeding. Christie hit a pair of free throws and Marble then hit back-to-back layups, one just before the shot clock expired after a blocked 3-point try from Hall. That 11-0 run put MSU back in front, 50-46, with 10:17 to play – the Spartans’ first lead of the second half – to set up a back-and-forth finish similar to the ending of Wednesday’s 71-69 win over Minnesota.
With one major exception: a loss, MSU's first since Nov. 26 against No. 1 Baylor at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
Barring a rescheduling of last Saturday’s postponed game against Michigan, MSU is off until Friday, when the Spartans travel to Madison to face No. 13 Wisconsin.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball upset by lowly Northwestern, 64-62