Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Juice squeezes out NU win (Men’s Basketball)

Kevin Coble looked up to the stands and saw his mother before Wednesday night’s game against Texas-Pan American in Northwestern’s first game since its blowout loss Sunday against Illinois.

Coble’s mother, who is still undergoing treatment for cancer, was decked out in purple to cheer for her son in NU’s final non-conference game of the season.

“It’s great, and it gives me a sense of normalcy,” Coble said. “That’s how it was last year and it’s still tough dealing with what’s going on, but seeing her up there gives me a lot of confidence and peace knowing that she’s all right. And it’s been really special for me.”

The sophomore forward helped propel a team that went into the half down four to a run late in the second half, leading to a 68-59 Wildcats’ victory.

With fewer than 11 minutes left in the game, Coble caught an outlet pass for a layup that tied the game at 39. On the next possession, he made a jumper to give the Cats a lead they would not relinquish. Coble led NU (7-11, 0-7 Big Ten) with a game-high 29 points, 21 of which came in the second half after what had been a lethargic start for the team.

“We had to push through it,” Coble said. “Mike (Thompson) and I were more assertive and tried to be aggressive, and eventually that started to pay off as the game went on.”

Thompson’s ability to drive through the lane and draw contact gave the Cats some easy points at the foul line, a marked contrast from their 6-for-14 showing against Illinois. NU shot 80 percent on 20 free-throw attempts, keeping the team in the game before its shooting touch returned.

The lack of shooting touch, especially from beyond the arc, continued to plague NU throughout much of the game. The Cats shot only 46 percent from the floor and made just 10 percent of their 3-point attempts. Junior guard Craig Moore remained cool from long range, missing all four of his 3-pointers in the first half.

When the team returned to the court after halftime, coach Bill Carmody had to make some changes offensively to stay in the game.

“We needed to simplify,” Carmody said. “We had to start going north to south, drive the ball and get the ball inside and rebound and run up and down the court.”

Thompson’s ability to lead the offense drew more players into the mix for the Cats. Sophomore forward Jeff Ryan came alive off the bench for NU in the second half, finishing with eight points and five rebounds. Ryan was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, while Thompson finished with 18 points and seven assists.

“When the defense collapsed, I kicked the ball out and tried to get my teammates involved,” Thompson said. “The offense works a lot smoother when we run at a faster pace.”

Now the team has to decide if an up-tempo offense is how it wants to play during their Big Ten stretch run, which starts Sunday at No. 11 Indiana (17-2, 6-0).

“I think when we’re playing fast that we are almost better,” Coble said. “But only as long as we are playing fast at our own choosing. We want to make sure it’s our tempo.”

Reach Brian Regan at [email protected].

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Juice squeezes out NU win (Men’s Basketball)