EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Alex Murphy made a 3-pointer from the corner, and a handful of fans behind the Northeastern bench could sense an upset was near. "Let's go Huskies!" they began chanting, while the rest of the Breslin Center stayed mostly quiet.
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Alex Murphy made a 3-pointer from the corner, and a handful of fans behind the Northeastern bench could sense an upset was near.
"Let's go Huskies!" they began chanting, while the rest of the Breslin Center stayed mostly quiet.
"I think it was the hockey team," Murphy said.
Murphy scored 18 points, and the Huskies capped a big day for Northeastern athletics with an 81-73 upset at Michigan State on Sunday night. The game was part of a tripleheader in East Lansing between the schools. Michigan State won the women's basketball game 78-44, and Northeastern beat the Spartans 6-2 in men's hockey.
It was the second head-turning upset of the season for the Huskies in men's basketball. They won at Connecticut last month. In between that game and this one, Northeastern (6-5) lost to the likes of LIU Brooklyn, Cornell and Stony Brook.
"I tell my guys each and every year that we want to compete against the very best that the country has to offer, to make sure that we can measure ourselves and get better," Northeastern coach Bill Coen said. "We want to compete against national championship-caliber programs, and that's what Michigan State is and always has been."
Cassius Winston had 21 points and 10 assists for the Spartans (7-5), who trailed 36-32 at halftime and could never take control.
Michigan State went on a 17-4 run in the second half and led 51-45 before T.J. Williams made a 3-pointer, snapping a string of nine straight missed field goals by Northeastern. The Huskies took the lead back before too long, and with the score 64-61, the 6-foot-8 Murphy made a layup followed by his big 3-pointer from in front of the Northeastern bench, making it an eight-point game with 2:47 remaining.
That was when the Northeastern fans started chanting.
Northeastern: The Huskies are certainly a hard team to figure out. They've now beaten a couple big-name programs — although UConn and Michigan State aren't exactly at their best right now. Northeastern showed impressive resolve, recovering nicely from a rough stretch in the second half and eventually closing the game out comfortably.
Michigan State: The Spartans were without freshman standout Miles Bridges, who missed his fourth straight game with a left ankle injury. Michigan State let this game get away from the 3-point line, where Northeastern went 11 of 23 and the Spartans were only 5 of 16. Michigan State was held to single-digit margins in home wins this month against Oral Roberts and Tennessee Tech, and this time the Spartans were victimized by an upset.
Michigan State's Eron Harris played only 23 minutes. Coach Tom Izzo was blunt when asked repeatedly about Harris' playing time in the postgame news conference.
"Why are you concerned about Harris? (He was) sitting next to me because he didn't play very good — period. So I don't know what the deal is," Izzo said. "I don't mean to jump you about it, but you want to know why he didn't? He didn't guard, he didn't play very hard, he didn't play very smart, he took a couple bad shots, and he wasn't playing the way he has to play."
CLEAVES ON HAND
Former Michigan State star Mateen Cleaves was at the game, less than two weeks after a judge dismissed sex charges against him. Cleaves was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2015, but charges were dismissed Dec. 5.
In the Michigan State locker room after the game, Cleaves would not comment on the case.
Northeastern: The Huskies have another game in Michigan coming up Tuesday night when they play at Oakland.
Michigan State: The Spartans' next game is also against Oakland, on Wednesday night in East Lansing. That's Michigan State's last game before starting Big Ten play.
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister
Follow Noah Trister on Twitter @noahtrister