EVANSTON, Ill. — Gary Harris scored 14 points and No. 4 Michigan State beat Northwestern 54-40 on Wednesday night for its ninth straight win.

The preseason favorite to win the Big Ten, the Spartans (16-1, 5-0 Big Ten) continue to roll along, though 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 three-pointers, with Harris missing all six and Keith Appling going 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, but Michigan State had enough to get by in this one.

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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 scored six points.

Other Top 10 men

At No. 9 Okla. St. 82, TCU 50

Marcus Smart had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Cowboys (15-2, 3-1 Big 12). Karviar Shepherd scored 13 points for the Horned Frogs (9-7, 0-4) in their most lopsided loss of the season.

At No. 10 San Diego St. 68, Fresno St. 60

Xavier Thames scored 28 points and Winston Shepard keyed a 12-2 run for the Aztecs, who rallied for their 14th straight victory.

The Aztecs (15-1, 4-0 Mountain West), who often looked ragged, won their 38th consecutive game against a team from California.

Tyler Johnson had 24 points and 11 rebounds for Fresno State (8-10, 1-4), which lost for the fourth time in five games.

Top 5 women

At No. 5 Louisville 75, UCF 56

Shoni Schimmel scored 27 points and Sara Hammond added 22 as Louisville earned its 10th straight victory.

Bria Smith added 10 points as the Cardinals (17-1, 5-0 American Athletic Conference) matched their best 18-game start since the 2008-09 season. This victory took work throughout as Louisville overcame a slow start to build a 23-point lead early in the second half, a cushion that came in handy after the determined Knights (8-8, 1-4) rallied to within 66-55 with 2½ minutes remaining.