Rapid Recap: Northwestern 74, Nebraska 66
January 8, 2017
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After a pair of losses in key early Big Ten games, Northwestern appeared to find its footing on the road at Nebraska on Sunday.
Using a strong offensive effort marked by hot 3-point shooting, the Wildcats (13-4, 2-2 Big Ten) put a stop to a two-game losing streak by outlasting Nebraska (9-7, 3-1) 74-66.
NU got off to a slow start, missing its first five shots as the Cornhuskers jumped out to an 8-2 lead. But the Cats soon settled in and knotted the score at 12 through eight minutes of game time.
NU continued to charge, taking a 23-18 lead into the under-8 timeout by hitting on 9 of 11 shots after the opening drought. With solid defense and hot shooting from sophomore forward Vic Law, the Cats pushed their lead up to 30-22 with three minutes before halftime. But Nebraska responded with a 14-0 run, punctuated by a deep buzzer-beating 3 by Tai Webster, to take a 37-33 lead into the break.
As in the first half, NU seemed to take control as the second frame progressed, hitting seven of its first 10 shots and a barrage of 3’s. The Cats took a 56-50 lead with 9:40 to go off long-range buckets from junior guard Scottie Lindsey and sophomore forward Vic Law.
But, unlike the first half, NU maintained control down the stretch. A pair of scores from sophomore center Dererk Pardon gave the Cats a boost, and buckets from Lindsey and senior forward Sanjay Lumpkin pushed the Cats’ lead to 7 going into the under-4 timeout.
When Webster hit a 3 to cut NU’s lead to 5 with 1:21 to go, the visitors again had an answer, as junior guard Bryant McIntosh nailed a layup. Nebraska attempted to get back into the game in the final minute by fouling, but the Cats hit their freebies, emerging with the victory.
1. Northwestern overcomes struggles on defensive glass
From the very outset of the season, NU knew its biggest weakness was going to be its size in the paint. Sophomore center Dererk Pardon is by far the team’s most imposing front court presence, but stands at just 6-foot-8. As the Cats roll deeper into Big Ten play and continue to face bigger squads than they did in their non-conference slate, neutralizing their disadvantage down low will be vital. Against Nebraska, they surrendered 12 offensive rebounds, but managed to overcome that on the offensive side of the ball with hot shooting and a barrage of their own offensive rebounds late.
2. Wildcats find groove in half-court offense
After shooting a combined 37 percent in its last two games, NU rediscovered its shooting touch against Nebraska. The Cats found open shots from deep and good looks in the paint, finishing 51 percent from the field. Lindsey led the way with 19 points, Law added 15 and Pardon finished with 13. All three were efficient, and NU hit at least half its shots in both halves. The fact that the Cats were able to win a game when they converted just 2 fastbreak points is a welcome sign for a squad that at times this season has looked most comfortable in transition. The half-court offense was flowing in Lincoln.
3. Vic Law the 3-point shooter
The sophomore came into the contest hitting 44 percent from downtown and continued his hot shooting by nailing 5-of-6 3s against Nebraska. Law has emerged as a potent threat from long range after showing an inconsistent jumper as a freshman. Though NU may at times need its most dynamic player to do more than just hit jumpers (he didn’t score inside the 3-point line in the contest), his hot shooting is a welcome sign.
– Pardon: 13 points, 6-of-8 shooting
– Lindsey: 19 points
– Law: 5-of-6 3-point shooting.