Jan. 8, 2005
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - As usual, Maurice Ager played like a star against Northwestern.
Ager scored 18 points and Paul Davis had 17 to lead No. 20 Michigan State past the Wildcats 87-58 Saturday for its seventh straight win.
The shooting guard, who scored a career-high 24 points against Northwestern at home last year, has averaged 15.6 points against the Wildcats and has made 16 of 19 3-pointers against them. Overall, the junior averages 8.8 points and makes 39 percent of his 3-pointers.
"Maybe I'll tell him we're playing Northwestern every week," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo joked.
Ager insisted he wasn't looking forward to facing Northwestern again.
"I get in trouble sometimes when I think of those things," said Ager, who made 6-of-8 shots, including both of his 3-point attempts.
Northwestern coach Bill Carmody was well aware that Ager always plays well against his team.
"I think he likes us," Carmody said. "He makes shots, he goes around our guys."
The Spartans (10-2, 2-0 Big Ten) have won their first two conference games for the first time since 2000, when they won the national championship. They beat Penn State by 26 on Wednesday.
Mike Thompson, a Duke transfer, led the Wildcats (8-6, 1-1) with 16 points. The 6-foot-10 center has averaged 12.5 points in eight games since he became eligible to play.
"I'm a big fan of Thompson," Izzo said. "I think he's going to be a heck of a player in this league."
Michigan State took control with a 17-5 run midway through the first half, giving it a 31-16 lead. The Spartans led 39-24 at halftime.
Northwestern made it 50-40 early in the second half before five Spartans scored during a 14-5 run and they pulled away again.
"We were never able to stop them," Carmody said. "They came down the court and got what they wanted. They have a lot of different people they can go to, they're very unselfish and they can shoot the ball."
Northwestern's Vedran Vukusic scored 12 points despite hurting his right shoulder again. Vukusic injured his shoulder midway through the first half, but returned early in the second. T.J. Parker, who missed the previous game with the flu, played just five minutes in the first half.
"He's a little out of it," Carmody said.
The Wildcats, who beat Indiana by 21 in their conference opener, had a chance to start 2-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1983. After a 1-4 start, Northwestern had won seven of eight.
The Spartans are off until Jan. 16, when they play at Wisconsin, which has won five straight against them.