EVANSTON, Ill. -- Gary Harris sees the wins piling up for No. 4 Michigan State. What he doesnt see is a finished product#1
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Gary Harris sees the wins piling up for No. 4 Michigan State. What he doesnt see is a finished product. The Spartans hardly looked like one against Northwestern on Wednesday night. They still prevailed 54-40, with Harris scoring 14 points to lead them to their ninth straight victory. "We know that we werent playing as well as we can offensively," Harris said. "We had to do something defensively to kind of get us going. Get stops and get the lead. Thats what we did. Thats how we pulled away from them." The preseason favourite to win the Big Ten, the Spartans (16-1, 5-0) continue to roll along, although it was hardly an easy night for them. They overcame a sluggish start and pulled away down the stretch even though they struggled in a big way from the outside. They were 2 of 16 on 3-pointers with six airballs, by coach Tom Izzos count. Harris missed all six from long range and Keith Appling was 0 for 3. Harris did have four steals, and Appling managed to score 11 points. Branden Dawson, fighting an illness, had 11 rebounds and three blocks, and the Spartans came away with the win even though they were missing one of their top players in Adreian Payne. The 6-foot-10 forward sat out his second straight game because of a sprained right foot and will have more X-rays on Friday. "Frustrating for him," Izzo said. "Although I have to admit he actually had better suggestions on the bench than he had in the games. I appreciated him as an assistant. I thought he did a good job in the huddles, and sometimes guys grow when they dont play. They appreciate playing." Izzo said Payne spoke in the locker room afterward. "That kids grown up so much. Its been a good year for him," Izzo added. Its been a great one for Michigan State, too, even if this game was a bit ugly. Tre Demps did his best to keep Northwestern (8-10, 1-4) in the game, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the second half. But leading scorer Drew Crawford never got going. He managed just six points with Denzel Valentine guarding him most of the game. Point guard Dave Sobolewski missed his second straight game because of a concussion, and the Wildcats came up short after beating then-No. 23 Illinois on Sunday night to give new coach Chris Collins his first Big Ten victory. They havent knocked off a top-five team since they took out fourth-ranked Michigan State on Jan. 27, 1979. But Izzo insisted Collins has them on the right path, even if its been a bumpy one. The Wildcats are moving to a more free flowing offence after running the Princeton set under former coach Bill Carmody, and it hasnt been the easiest adjustment. But they see the progress even though theyve failed to hit the 50-point mark the past two games. "Were really on the verge of something good," Crawford said. Coming off back-to-back overtime wins against Ohio State and Minnesota, Michigan State probably could have used a breather. The problem was, the Spartans had trouble sustaining a run. They looked as though they were poised to put this one away after Travis Trice nailed a 3 and Matt Costello scooped in a reverse layup to make it 40-31 with 11:36 remaining. But Demps answered with a basket for Northwestern. It was 44-37 when Alex Gauna banked in a shot to start a six-point spurt that gave the Spartans a double-digit lead. Harris hit two free throws and stripped Demps, leading to two more foul shots for Appling that made it 50-37 with 4:59 left, and the Spartans hung on from there. "(Northwestern) got loose balls," Izzo said. "They did the things theyve got to do. Its a sign of a good young team thats playing hard. Its the sign of a good coach whos getting them to play hard. I think theres a lot of positive things here. We have a good team. Were not playing real good right now." Discount Carolina Panthers Jerseys . 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There was little fanfare, though, when the Yankees captain was taken out of his final regular-season Subway Series game in the eighth inning. Jeter watched the last four outs from the bench, pulled off the field during a double switch Thursday night as the Yankees held off the Mets 1-0.Renton, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Seattle Seahawks placed defensive tackle Jordan Hill on injured reserve Tuesday. Hill had 5 1/2 sacks and an interception in Seattles final six games of the regular season. He had 19 tackles in 13 games this season. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said that Hill suffered a severe calf pull during a workout over the weekend. The team hopes Demarcus Dobbs, who missed the last three games with an ankle injury, returns to health and can fill in Hills role as a backup defensive tackle. Seattle will also be without backup safety Jeron Johnsonn for Saturdays playoff game against the Panthers.dddddddddddd Johnson suffered a dislocated elbow in Week 17. Meawhile, center Max Unger, who missed the teams past six games with ankle and knee injuries, has been practicing and should be able to play this week. Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (hamstring), cornerback Tharold Simon (shoulder) and tight end Cooper Helfet (ribs) are also expected to play Saturday. Seattle also signed safety Steven Terrell from the practice squad to the active roster and signed defensive tackle Jimmy Staten to the practice squad. 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