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Men’s Basketball: With Cobb out for season, Wildcats head to Nebraska

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Men’s Basketball: With Cobb out for season, Wildcats head to Nebraska

Senior forward Drew Crawford will play an even bigger role for Northwestern with junior guard JerShon Cobb out for the season. Cobb was second on the team — to Crawford — in points per game.

Senior forward Drew Crawford will play an even bigger role for Northwestern with junior guard JerShon Cobb out for the season. Cobb was second on the team — to Crawford — in points per game.

Daily file photo by Ina Yang

Senior forward Drew Crawford will play an even bigger role for Northwestern with junior guard JerShon Cobb out for the season. Cobb was second on the team — to Crawford — in points per game.

Daily file photo by Ina Yang

Daily file photo by Ina Yang

Senior forward Drew Crawford will play an even bigger role for Northwestern with junior guard JerShon Cobb out for the season. Cobb was second on the team — to Crawford — in points per game.

Alex Putterman, Assistant Sports Editor

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Northwestern’s season ended early for one of the team’s top players.

Second-leading scorer JerShon Cobb is out for the season with foot and knee injuries, coach Chris Collins announced Thursday. 

Though Collins said Cobb might recover in time for the end of the season, depending on the Wildcats’ postseason situation, but the team chose to shut him down to be safe.

It was an obvious call for a team without much left to play for. A five-game losing streak has essentially ended hopes of even an NIT bid, and with Cobb now out, it’s nearing time for a post-mortem on the season.

Before opening night, The Daily rather optimistically predicted a 16-15 regular season for NU. After a rough non-conference showing and blowouts in the team’s first three Big Ten games, even 10 wins looked unattainable at midseason.

To the Cats’ credit, they won five of their next seven, prompting hopes of 18 wins and a postseason tournament. But the last five games have halted those ambitions, with a deep conference finally catching up to the Cats.

“I knew it was going to be a difficult league,” Collins said. “Watching last year I knew how difficult it was. Now being in it, it’s unbelievably difficult but also that much fun. Every game you’re getting a chance to compare against the best.”

During that time, the Cats’ close wins turned into close losses.

“I was hoping to get a couple more wins,” Collins said. “We had a couple close games at home with the Nebraska game, with the Minnesota game, with the Indiana game. We had the three home games there we were really close in the last four minutes that we let slip away.”

NU is now 12-16 with three games to play, roughly where reasonable expectations had them before the season.

Of course, with a road game at Nebraska coming Saturday, it’s not quite yet time for reflection. Not even for senior forward Drew Crawford, whose storied career will end in several weeks.

“We’re not looking back yet,” Crawford said. “We still have three Big Ten games left, so everything we’re doing right now is looking forward. Right now we’re really focused on Nebraska and winning this game.”

Cobb’s absence will result in role changes up and down the roster. Lesser-used players will see bumps in playing time, and starters will need to pick up the slack.

“Everyone has to step up now that JerShon’s not able to play,” Crawford said. “It’s going to be a shared burden for all of us. Really everyone has to increase their play. Guys who maybe weren’t playing as many minutes have to step up and contribute.”

In Cobb’s first game out, the Cats lost of close game to Indiana. They now play a Nebraska team they lost to at home three weeks ago. Since then, the Cornhuskers have gone 4-1 and launched themselves onto the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Last time the two NUs met, the Cats were expected to win. Now, with Cobb out and the teams headed in opposite directions, things are different.

“I think we’ve been the underdog in every game but one,” Collins said Tuesday. “So for us to have five wins, and be as competitive as we’ve been, I’m really pleased with the progress we’ve made.”

Email: asputt@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @AlexPutt02

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