EVANSTON, Illinois (Ticker) -- Maurice Ager got Michigan State off to a fast start and delivered a late dagger to Northwestern's comeback hopes.
Alan Anderson scored 22 points and Ager added 20 as the 12th-ranked Spartans held off the Wildcats for a 69-58 Big Ten Conference victory.
Ager sparked a 28-12 opening run in the first eight minutes by making all four of his shot attempts and two free throws for 11 points. He finished the half with 14 points as the Spartans forged a 37-22 advantage.
When Northwestern closed to 60-55, Ager, a junior guard who finished 7-of-9 from the floor, knocked down his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 3 1/2 minutes left that quieted the crowd and halted the comeback bid.
Ager scored 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first contest between the schools this season, a 87-58 romp by the Spartans.
Anderson scored 16 points in the second half and shot 7-of-12 from the floor overall. Paul Davis added eight points and 12 rebounds for the Spartans (21-5, 12-3 Big Ten), who already had locked up the second seed for the upcoming conference tournament.
Michigan State shot 50 percent (24-of-48) from the floor and held a 37-25 edge on the boards to secure its seventh win in its last eight games and 33rd in 35 games against Northwestern.
Vedran Vukusic scored 17 points to go over 1,000 for his career and T.J. Parker chipped in 14 for Northwestern (14-14, 6-9), which had won five of its previous seven games.
Anderson scored six points in the first two minutes after intermission to push the margin to 45-29. Michigan State held a 54-36 lead with 13 minutes left before Northwestern started a 19-6 spurt. Parker scored seven points and Vukusic capped the run to pull the Wildcats within 60-55.
Northwestern coach Bill Carmody was ejected with 30 seconds left in the first half after picking up his second technical foul.