Men’s Basketball: Northwestern starts off slowly but cruises to another easy win against Mississippi Valley State

Sam Krevlin, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

Senior center Alex Olah and sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh worked together seamlessly in Northwestern’s 78-48 win over Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday.

With under nine minutes to go in the first half, McIntosh caught the defense sleeping and fed the ball to Olah for an easy dunk. This was Olah’s sixth bucket of the game, and one of many baskets set up by McIntosh.

From the beginning of the game, it was clear that the winless Delta Devils (0-12) were unable to handle the Wildcats’ (9-1) size on either end of the floor. NU’s defensive play held the Delta Devils to an abysmal 29 percent shooting from the floor. Both Olah and junior forward Sanjay Lumpkin overmatched Mississippi Valley State’s big men, as the Cats outrebounded the Delta Devils 53 to 42 and 14 to 5 on second chance point opportunities.

After the game, McIntosh said that the team’s gameplan was to attack the post and feed Olah the ball. He said that the team didn’t do a great job of that during its previous game against Chicago State.

“It was a big emphasis (getting the ball to Olah), especially looking at the film from Chicago State,” McIntosh said. “We didn’t hit the post like we should have. Coming into this game, it was really something that was stressed in our preparation. They were smaller inside so we just wanted to take advantage of that.”

The 7-foot Olah was the tallest player on the floor and seven inches taller than the Delta Devils’ center Latrell Love. Despite two early fouls, Olah played much of the first half, leading the Cats’ offensive effort.

Olah made his first eight shots and finished with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting. The Cats outscored the Delta Devils inside the paint, scoring 14 more points down low.

Coach Chris Collins praised Olah for his performance, calling him a star after the game. He said the team passed up on open looks and 3-pointers to feed Olah. Moving forward, Collins said he hopes the team will be able to find a balance between feeding the paint and taking open threes.

“We really wanted to establish him,” Collins said. “We had a big size advantage. He was bigger than any of their guys. I thought in our last game we really settled for threes.”

However, as Olah and McIntosh sat on the bench late in the first half, the Delta Devils were able to mount a small comeback. With around 3:00 left in the first half, the score was 32-23, but as Olah and McIntosh watched from the sidelines, NU made costly turnovers and missed threes, finishing 2-of-12 from beyond the arc in the first half.

The Cats were unable to break loose until the end of the game. NU started the second half shooting 1-of-8 from three and was unable to effectively get the ball inside to Olah like they did in the first half.

Because of Lumpkin’s four fouls, Olah played most of the second half and managed to stay out of severe foul trouble after picking up two in the first half. While the Cats were unable to feed Olah down low, his presence on the defensive end was felt with 11 rebounds and three blocks.

Similarly, McIntosh was able to stay out of foul trouble in the second half. His eight assists led NU, many of which were passes to Olah. As McIntosh stayed on the floor, he was able to control the offense, both scoring and distributing the basketball.

As the Cats pulled away late in the second half with a 30 point lead, they were able to sit four of their starters including Olah and Lumpkin.

Although the Cats beat the Delta Devils by 30 points, McIntosh said the coaches do a great job of keeping the team focused no matter who the Cats are facing.

“Our coaches did a good job keeping us focused on the task at hand,” McIntosh said. “We can’t look ahead. We’ve seen too many teams this year look passed an opponent and get upset. We did a good job staying focused.”

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