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

The Daily Northwestern

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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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Wildcats maintain intrigue

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Most people will assume Northwestern’s 75-63 loss to Indiana on Sunday was simply another debacle for the Wildcats, another blowout defeat whose result was never in doubt.

For once, this game was so much more than that.

The final score is just as misleading as in the other Cats’ losses, but in the other direction. NU played the No. 11 Hoosiers close deep into the second half in its best performance of the season.

That’s right, its best. When your most impressive win comes against Western Michigan, 65-63, a hard-fought loss to an elite team looks pretty good.

This game was supposed to be a blowout. The Cats came into the contest with an 0-7 record in the Big Ten, fresh off an embarrassing 33-point loss to lowly Illinois. Across the court were the 17-3 Hoosiers, who had lost their last two games and needed a patsy on which to take their revenge.

Early on, it seemed like the Cats would indeed roll over and play dead for Indiana. Freshman sensation Eric Gordon nailed back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers in the first three minutes to propel the home team to an early 11-5 lead, and the Hoosiers seemed poised to put away the visitors quickly.

But NU had other ideas.

The Cats began to pour in buckets, hitting nearly every shot they took in the first half.

NU ran its much-maligned Princeton Offense to perfection, cutting behind the Hoosiers again and again for easy layups. When Indiana collapsed inside, the Cats stepped up from behind the arc, where they were deadly.

The visitors finished the first half down only 40-37. NU shot 14 of 22 from the field, including an unconscious 7 of 9 from behind the arc. Even J.J. Redick didn’t shoot that well.

Despite the Cats’ inspired first-half play, I spent the beginning of the second half waiting for an Indiana run to put the game away.

It didn’t come, and the Assembly Hall crowd grew more and more restless as the minutes ticked down. Undersized and on the road, the suddenly relentless Cats kept plugging away.

Every time Indiana looked poised to make a run, Craig Moore would hit a three or Nikola Baran would draw an offensive foul.

The Cats kept up the pressure for the first 12 minutes of the second half and had the frustrated Hoosiers on their heels. But like so many times in recent years, they could only get oh-so-close.

Twice, NU had an open 3-pointer to that could have given them the lead. Twice, the shot rimmed out.

The second miss, a brick by Coble with the Cats down 52-50, proved to be the death knell for the team. Before anyone could even blink, the Hoosiers had ripped off a 14-2 run, and the game was suddenly over.

The realities of the loss are the same as any other: The Cats are still winless in the Big Ten, and they are still unable to come up big in the clutch.

But this game was fun to watch.

It was tense. It was back-and-forth. For 32 minutes, it was the kind of contest that glues you to the television, that keeps you from getting up to go to the bathroom or flipping to see what’s new with your favorite show.

The kind of game that makes basketball worth watching.

So don’t be fooled by the 12-point final margin of defeat and chalk this up as just another loss for the Big Ten’s cellar-dwelling team. Because if the Cats play like this against Michigan, Iowa, or Illinois, they will win.


Assistant sports editor Jake Simpson is a Medill junior. He can be reached at [email protected].

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