CREATED Mar. 11, 2013
Senior center and team captain Derrick Nix netted 10 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in his last game at the Breslin Center as the Spartans held on to beat Northwestern 71-61. The senior has faced his fair share of adversity during his four years under Tom Izzo, but few players have received the ovation that Nix did on Sunday. With just over one minute to play in regulation, Nix was subbed out for the final time. Like so many Spartan seniors before him, Nix walked to the center of the court as the fans chanted his name, knelt down, and kissed the Spartan logo at center court. He got up, walked to the sideline, and shared an embrace with Tom Izzo.
Junior Keith Appling returned to form for Michigan State, notching a game-high 16 points in the victory, while also hauling in 4 rebounds in 38 minutes of play. Though the game was closer than most would have expected, the Spartans pulled away late in the second half to secure the victory and improve their record to 24-7 (13-5).
The Spartans hopes of sharing a Big Ten regular season title were dashed, however, when Michigan lost to Indiana. Had the Wolverines knocked off the Hoosiers, there would have been a four-way tie at the top of the Big Ten standings. The Hoosiers won their first outright regular season title since the 1992-93 season, where they eventually lost in the Elite-8.
Michigan State earned a #3 ranking in the upcoming Big Ten tournament, and will play Friday against the winner of the Iowa/Northwestern game. The tournament will continue through the weekend, with the championship game scheduled for 2:30pm on Sunday.