The Daily Northwestern

Rapid Recap: Northwestern 87, Penn State 77

Scottie+Lindsey+dribbles+the+ball.+The+junior+guard+scored+a+career-best+31+points+against+Penn+State.
Scottie Lindsey dribbles the ball. The junior guard scored a career-best 31 points against Penn State.

Scottie Lindsey dribbles the ball. The junior guard scored a career-best 31 points against Penn State.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Scottie Lindsey dribbles the ball. The junior guard scored a career-best 31 points against Penn State.

Tim Balk, Managing Editor

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Men’s Basketball


It looked like much of non-conference play, as Northwestern rolled past another opponent without much drama. But Big Ten play is officially underway for the Wildcats, who took home an 87-77 win over Penn State on Tuesday.

NU (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten) rolled past the Nittany Lions (8-6, 0-1) at the Bryce Jordan Center, rushing out to a 25-9 lead and never looking back in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated. Junior guard Scottie Lindsey starred for the Cats, posting a career-high 31 points, and NU quieted a Penn State offense that had scored more than 90 points in its last two games.

The Cats opened the afternoon with a jump shot from junior guard Bryant McIntosh and knocked in four jumpers in the game’s opening three minutes. NU continued to shoot well throughout the first half, knocking in 19 field goals and six 3s. Meanwhile, the Cats held the Nittany Lions to 30.3 percent shooting before the break, allowing them to open up a 51-32 halftime lead.

But NU cooled down from the field to start the second half, missing 10 of its first 12 shots after intermission. Penn State whittled the visitors’ lead to 13 with 14:15. But within four minutes, the Cats had pushed their lead back to 21, as a pair of 3-pointers from McIntosh and junior forward Gavin Skelly put Penn State beyond striking range. The Nittany Lions never truly threatened in the second frame.

NU has now won nine straight games, and took a step toward validating early season NCAA Tournament murmurs with the win.

Takeaways

1. These Wildcats have some offensive firepower. NU made its first six shots, and didn’t slow down much, overwhelming Penn State with hot shooting and smooth passing (19 assists) on its way to 87 points. Though the Cats were merely solid offensively in non-conference play, they were spectacular in their Big Ten opener. Lindsey led the way, finishing a thunderous transition dunk in the first half, and drilling 5-of-8 3-pointers for the game. Sophomore forward Vic Law posted a balanced 12-point, five-assist line. And McIntosh, who displayed his entire repertoire of jumpers and floaters, ended the game with 11 points.

2. Scottie Lindsey’s junior year explosion continues. If there has been one surprise for NU this year, it has been Lindsey, who scored just 4.4 points per game as a freshman and 6.4 as a sophomore. Criticized in the past for inconsistent defense and spotty shooting, the junior has been stellar this season, scoring in double digits every game while pitching in solid perimeter defense. Against Penn State, the Cats’ new leading scoring had his best performance yet, frustrating Penn State’s defense on the way to 9-of-14 shooting. The rest of the Big Ten might be wise to take note.

3. It’s time start thinking about March. Though the Cats impressed throughout non-conference play, notching 11 wins and taking down Dayton and Wake Forest, the success of their season will ultimately hinge on their performance in conference play. NU tipped off Big Ten play in impressive fashion, but two key games loom. On Dec. 30, the Cats will head to East Lansing for a battle with Michigan State before returning home on Jan. 5 to take on Minnesota — another team that rolled through its non-conference slate. A pair of wins would validate the hype around the Cats and put them on an inside track to The Dance.

Stats

-With 12 points and 12 rebounds, Law recorded his second career double-double and first since February of 2015.
-The Cats found success on the offensive boards, finishing the day with 14. Law led with five.
-NU held star Penn State guard Shep Garner to just 8 points on 2-of-9 shooting.
-With sophomore center Dererk Pardon still sidelined, freshman center Barret Benson turned in a solid 6-point, four-rebound line in 15 minutes.

Email: timothybalk2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @TimBalk

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