EVANSTON, Ill. -- Gary Harris sees the wins piling up for No. 4 Michigan State. What he doesn't 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 weren't 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. That's what we did. That's how we pulled away from them."
The preseason favorite 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 Izzo's 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 don't play. They appreciate playing."
Izzo said Payne spoke in the locker room afterward.
"That kid's grown up so much. It's been a good year for him," Izzo added.
It's 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 haven't 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 it's been a bumpy one.
The Wildcats are moving to a more free flowing offense after running the Princeton set under former coach Bill Carmody, and it hasn't been the easiest adjustment. But they see the progress even though they've failed to hit the 50-point mark the past two games.
"We're really on the verge of something good," Crawford said.
No. 9 OKLAHOMA ST. 82, TCU 50
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Marcus Smart scored 20 points to help Oklahoma State defeat TCU.
Smart, the reigning Big 12 player of the week, also had eight rebounds and five assists for the Cowboys (15-2, 3-1).
Karviar Shepherd scored 13 for the Horned Frogs (9-7, 0-4) in their most lopsided loss of the season.
No. 10 SDSU 68, FRESNO ST. 60
SAN DIEGO -- Xavier Thames scored 28 points and Winston Shepard keyed a 12-2 run for San Diego State, which rallied past Fresno State for its 14th straight win.
The Aztecs (15-1, 4-0 Mountain West), who often looked ragged, won their 38th consecutive game against a team from California. On Monday, SDSU reached its highest AP ranking since it was No. 6 on March 14, 2011.
Tyler Johnson had 24 points and 11 rebounds for Fresno State (8-10, 1-4), which lost for the fourth time in five games.
TEXAS TECH 82, No. 12 BAYLOR 72
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Jaye Crockett had 19 points, Toddrick Gotcher added 17 and Texas Tech beat Baylor for its first Big 12 win of the season.
Dejan Kravic and Robert Turner scored 14 apiece for the Red Raiders (9-8, 1-3), who led all the way and ended a four-game slide against Baylor in Lubbock.
Kenny Chery scored 22 points for the Bears (13-3, 1-2). They finished with only six assists, a season low for a team averaging 16.3.
No. 16 UMASS 88, G. MASON 87
FAIRFAX, Va. -- Chaz Williams had 26 points and eight assists, Derrick Gordon made a go-ahead layup with 8 seconds remaining and Massachusetts edged George Mason.
The Minutemen (15-1, 3-0 Atlantic 10) rallied from eight points down in the second half to win their fifth straight.
Sherrod Wright scored 26 points and Allen had 21 to lead the Patriots (7-10, 0-3), who lost for the eighth time in 10 games. George Mason was seeking its first win over a ranked opponent in more than six years.
No. 24 SAINT LOUIS 66,
ST. BONAVENTURE 60
ST. LOUIS -- Dwayne Evans scored 18 points and Saint Louis won its first game since breaking into the Top 25 for the first time this season, holding off St. Bonaventure.
Jordair Jett scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half for Saint Louis (16-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10), which has won 10 in a row. The start is the school's best since the 1993-94 team was 19-1.
Matthew Wright had 17 points for St. Bonaventure (11-6, 1-2), which was in foul trouble early and ended with four players drawing four fouls apiece.
PURDUE 66, ILLINOIS 58
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A.J. Hammons scored 17 points to lead Purdue to a 66-58 win over Illinois on Wednesday.
The Boilermakers (12-5, 2-2 Big Ten) trailed 33-29 at halftime, but they opened the second half with 10-5 run to regain the lead and held off the Illini (13-5, 2-3).
Ronnie Johnson added 13 points for Purdue while Terone Johnson had 10.
Tracy Abrams led Illinois with 13 points. Rayvonte Rice had 10 by halftime but the Boilermakers stifled the Big Ten's leading scorer in the second half. He finished with 11.
TOLEDO 67, BUFFALO 65
TOLEDO -- Julius Brown scored 20 points, including the game-winning buzzer beater, to lift Toledo to a 67-65 comeback win over Buffalo.
Trailing 39-32 at the break, Toledo (14-2, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) closed the gap late in the second half, taking the lead on a pair of free throws from Brown before Shannon Evans hit a layup for Buffalo that tied the game back up at 65 with three seconds to go. Brown, who scored all eight of the Rockets' points in the final two minutes, responded with a jumper at the buzzer for the win.
J.D. Weatherspoon contributed 13 points and seven rebounds, while Justin Drummond and Rian Pearson added 12 points apiece for the Rockets, who shot 42 percent (28 of 67) in the close game.
Javon McCrea led Buffalo (8-5, 2-1) with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Joshua Freelove added 16 points.
BOWLING GREEN 67, CMU 57
BOWLING GREEN -- Richaun Holmes scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had four blocks to lead Bowling Green to a 67-57 victory over Central Michigan.
Spencer Parker also had 20 points and Anthony Henderson added 13 for Bowling Green (7-9, 1-2 MAC). Holmes and Parker combined to make 14 of 19 shots from the field. Jehvon Clarke was just 3 of 12 for nine points but handed out seven assists.
Chris Fowler made 7 of 16 shots and finished with 19 points for Central Michigan (7-8, 0-3). Blake Hibbitts added 14 and freshman Braylon Rayson made his first career start for the Chippewas.
AKRON 59, MIAMI (OH) 52
AKRON -- Demetrius Treadwell scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as Akron topped Miami (Ohio) for its fifth straight victory.
Akron (11-5, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) trailed nearly the entire first half but took the lead early in the second and never fell behind again, leading by as many as 11 with less than 3 1/2 minutes remaining.
Miami (5-9, 1-2) cut the deficit to 55-50 with 1:09 to play but then ultimately couldn't capitalize after Akron turned the ball over and missed a free throw on its next two possessions.
Nick Harney added 11 points and Quincy Diggs had 10 for Akron, which remained undefeated in conference play and held Miami to just 35.2 percent shooting from the field.
Will Felder led Miami with 16 points.
OHIO 71, BALL STATE 51
ATHENS -- Maurice Ndour scored 16 points and T.J. Hall added 13 as Ohio routed Ball State.
Ohio (12-4, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) converted 21 Ball State turnovers into 19 points and outscored the Cardinals 44-30 in the second half. The Bobcats have won five of their past six.
Ball State (3-11, 0-3) shot just 32.6 percent from the field and was 3 of 18 from beyond the arc.
KENT STATE 73, N. ILLINOIS 64 OT
DEKALB, Ill. -- Devareaux Manley hit a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left to tie at the end of regulation and Kris Brewer kicked off the extra period with a jumper as Kent State defeated Northern Illinois 73-64 in overtime.
Brewer scored nine points in overtime, finishing with 25 -- three shy of his season high -- to lead the Golden Flashes (11-5, 2-1 Mid-American Conference). Derek Jackson added 14 points and Manley 10. Jackson hit a 3-pointer at halftime to tie at 30 and assisted on Manley's 3-pointer to force the OT at 58-58.
Aaron Armstead scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds for the Huskies (7-8, 1-2) who held 11-point leads in each half.
DAYTON 80, FORDHAM 68
NEW YORK -- Devin Oliver and Vee Sanford each scored 16 points as Dayton defeated Fordham, 80-68.
Dayton (13-4, 1-1 Atlantic 10) bounces back after having its three-game winning streak snapped by Saint Louis in the conference opener on Saturday.
Khari Price scored 15 points and Dyshawn Pierre added 10 for Dayton.
Ryan Rhoomes had 15 points and 15 rebounds for Fordham (7-9, 0-3). Branden Frazier scored 12 of his 20 points from the free-throw line. Jon Severe added 13 points.
CINCINNATI 80, GEORGETOWN 67
CINCINNATI -- Xavier overcame a 17-point deficit in the final 15 minutes, using its balance and a big closing run to beat Georgetown 80-67 and remain unbeaten at home.
The Musketeers (14-4, 4-1 Big East) held the Hoyas scoreless over the final 6 minutes and closed with a 16-point run that showed their depth.
The Hoyas (11-5, 3-2) matched their season high by hitting 10 3-pointers and building a 17-point lead with 14:55 to go. Semaj Christon started the comeback, but wound up on the bench with four fouls and Xavier down by two with 8:57 left. Christon scored 18 points, Dee Davis added 17, Isaiah Philmore 14 and Justin Martin 10.
Markel Starks led Georgetown with 19 points.