Cats derail Boilermakers (Men’s Basketball)

Nicholas Collins

Two visiting teams from Indiana came into Welsh-Ryan Arena in eight days, and both had to watch the Wild Side pour onto the court as they left the floor.

Northwestern’s 78-67 victory against Purdue (15-6, 7-3 Big Ten) on Wednesday gave NU a rare double win over the Big Ten squads from the Hoosier State. The last time the Wildcats (10-11, 2-8) beat Indiana and Purdue in the same year was 1982.

“Northwestern just out-executed us,” Purdue coach Gene Keady said. “(They) played harder, played smarter and did everything they needed to win.”

NU benefited from an all-around attack, with five players reaching double figures for the first time in NU coach Bill Carmody’s three-year tenure. Freshman T.J. Parker almost made it six, with nine points after the break following a scoreless first half.

The Cats’ offense was led by center Aaron Jennings, who posted a career-high 20 points on 7 of 11 shooting, including four 3-pointers.

“It was just a good team effort,” Carmody said. “Offensively we seemed balanced. When there were some big plays to be made, it seemed different guys stepped up and made them.”

The biggest shot of the night came from Parker with 8:07 remaining in the game. The point guard nailed an NBA-range 3-pointer to end a 6-0 Purdue run after the Boilermakers had closed the gap to six.

The Cats staved off the Boilermakers with solid free-throw shooting down the stretch, going 13 of 14 from the foul line in the second half.

“(Free throws) were very key, everybody stepped up,” Burke said. “We hadn’t really been taking care of that part of the game, so it was good to see.”

The Cats went into the half on a high note. About a minute before halftime, junior Jitim Young drew a charge from Purdue guard Austin Parkinson at midcourt, and Keady’s reaction to the call drew a technical from the ref. After a Winston Blake free throw and a Davor Duvancic layup, the Cats enjoyed a 13-point lead.

Young’s drawn charge was just a piece of the defensive effort that held the Boilermakers to 20 first-half points.

“The energy we had last Wednesday seemed like it came back a little bit,” Carmody said.

Parker hounded Purdue guard Willie Deane throughout the contest and held the Big Ten’s third-leading scorer to 1 of 8 shooting in the first half.

“I was feeling it in my legs,” Parker said. “I was hyped up to play against Willie Deane, he’ll probably be in the NBA next year.”

The second half began with a faster Purdue attack as the Boilermakers scored 15 points in the first five minutes. But NU kept pace, tallying 47 points after the break — the most in a half by an NU team under Carmody.

Young said this second win should send a message to all the Cats’ doubters.

“I heard (ESPN analyst) Jay Bilas say this would be an easy win for Purdue,” Young said. “If someone could pass the message along to Mr. Bilas:

“There are no easy wins in the Big Ten.”