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Coble, Northwestern end jinx in East Lansing

Jan 22, 2009 - 7:31 AM EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- For the first time in a long time, Northwestern will be on a high when it leaves East Lansing.

Kevin Coble scored a season-high 31 points Wednesday as Northwestern shocked seventh-ranked Michigan State, 70-63, to halt a lengthy losing drought on the road.

Michael Thompson had 20 points as the Wildcats (10-6, 2-4 Big Ten) halted a 21-game losing streak in East Lansing, beating the Spartans on the road for the first time since January 7, 1984.

"I have never felt good leaving this town, so today is a really good win for our program and for our guys," Wildcats coach Bill Carmody said. "You have to be a little fortunate to win here, and I thought all of our guys came through when they had to and especially near the end of the game."

To add more to the surprising result, Northwestern also halted Michigan State's 28-game winning streak at the Breslin Center, giving the Spartans (15-3, 5-1) their first loss here since a setback to Ohio State on February 3, 2007.

"It doesn't surprise me that we didn't go undefeated (in the Big Ten) like most people around here thought we would," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "It does surprise me that we would lose at home in this fashion. I think we just lost to a team that was better than us. My concern is not the loss, but rather how we respond to the loss. I guess we will find out about the character of this team."

Northwestern took control when Craig Moore's 3-pointer gave it a 51-49 lead with 7:09 remaining. It started a 14-6 run for the Wildcats, who defeated their second straight ranked opponent.

Coupled with Sunday's 74-65 victory over then-No. 17 Minnesota, Northwestern has beaten ranked opponents in consecutive games for the first time in school history.

It could have been three in a row if the Wildcats had not blow a 14-point second-half lead in a 63-61 home loss to then-No. 19 Purdue on January 15.

Kalin Lucas scored 20 points for Michigan State, which had an 11-game winning streak snapped.

"Tom Izzo never has average teams and this team seemed to be on a pretty good high and a pretty good run right now," Carmody said. "They had a couple wins where they didn't play as great, but when I was watching them on film I thought it was going to be rough, so that does make this feeling a little better."

Not helping the Spartans' cause was that second-leading scorer Raymar Morgan was limited due to a case of the flu. The 6-7 junior did not start and managed only one point in 18 minutes.

"I feel bad for Raymar, he just couldn't go," Izzo said. "He tried to go, you need to give him credit because he tried, but he just hasn't played. He hasn't practiced since last Friday and he would have been on Coble, so that hurt us a little bit."

Moore, who finished with 11 points, started the game 0-of-7 on 3-pointers until he hit that shot from the arc that gave Northwestern the lead for good at 51-49.

The Wildcats ended up with four baskets from the arc on the 14-5 spurt, including another by Moore that made it 60-55 with 3:54 to play.

Northwestern ended up 9-of-28 on 3-pointers, including 5-of-12 (42 percent) in the second half.

Despite a scoring drought of nearly two minutes, the Spartans had a chance for the win, but ended up with foolish turnovers.

Michigan State had been on a 3-on-1 break with 2:44 left after Northwestern committed a poor pass in the backcourt, but Durrell Summers mistakenly threw the ball to Coble, who was trying to get back defensively.

It was one of 18 turnovers for the Spartans, including 10 in the second half.

"It came down to turnovers, 18 tonight," Izzo said. "Even when we came back we just committed some terrible turnovers. It comes down to the fact that they played better than us."

Coble, who finished 10-of-16 from the field, then magnified Summers' error by banking in a turnaround jumper with 2:14 remaining to stretch the lead to seven points.

The fadeaway shot was one of a few unorthodox shots by Coble.

"Certain guys can take bad shots and what I mean is they are bad shots for me and you, but for him he can make those," Carmody said of Coble. "He had a couple of step-back one footers, and when time was running out he was able to make that 3-pointer off the glass. But he has had those kind of game through his career where he takes some bad shots and makes them."

"Three of the shots were unbelievable at the end," Izzo said. "Then you throw in the one where Coble is leaning in and banks it in. Once you saw those go in, you knew it was their night."

The Spartans did cut their deficit to three on freshman Korie Lucious with 45 seconds left, but it was a little too late as the Wildcats converted five of their last six free throws.

    --- --- -----
    NORTHWESTERN 33 37 70
    MICHIGAN ST (7) 34 29 63 FINAL

    Jan 21 8:41 PM

    (7) MICHIGAN ST 34 0:00 LEFT, 1ST HALF

    Jan 21 7:28 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 91 roots (Upset)

    Northwestern 33, Michigan State(7) 34  HalfJan 21 7:28 PM