Men’s Basketball: Woeful offense sends Northwestern to loss to Nebraska


Colin Boyle / Daily Senior Staffer

Glynn Watson, Jr. slips past Barret Benson for a layup. Watson had 19 points in Nebraska’s 70-55 win over Northwestern.

Cole Paxton, Managing Editor

Men’s Basketball

ROSEMONT — For a while, it appeared Northwestern could win despite shooting less than 30 percent from the field, playing without its best player and getting a poor performance from its leading scorer.

Then, when Nebraska started to find its offense, things got ugly for the Wildcats.

The Cornhuskers (11-5, 2-1 Big Ten) found their shooting stroke late in the second half, blowing Tuesday’s game wide open in the final minutes and handing NU (10-6, 1-2) a disheartening 70-55 home loss at Allstate Arena.

“It was an offensive struggle for both teams for much of the game,” coach Chris Collins said. “Then Nebraska buckled down and started getting to the rim on us.”

Dererk Pardon had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Cats, but the junior center was 6-of-18 from the floor as he struggled to find a rhythm in the post. Leading scorer Scottie Lindsey shot 4-of-14 and contributed to a 29 percent shooting clip for the Cats, who played without injured senior point guard Bryant McIntosh.

Nebraska, meanwhile, had three double-figure scorers and shot an effective 16-of-27 in the second half. The Cornhuskers seized control when Anton Gill completed a 4-point play that brought red-clad fans to their feet with 7:58 remaining and extended the Nebraska lead to five; NU scored just 13 points the rest of the game as the visitors pulled away.

“Eight minutes left to go, we’re only down 1,” Pardon said, “we had to lock in and defend. We didn’t do that.”

The strong second half by the visitors belied a gruesome start. The Cornhuskers shot less than 30 percent before the break and only one player had more than 4 points. NU, for its part, accrued 14 offensive rebounds and just 12 field goals.

“It was really a struggle,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “There was no good looks for either team early.”

As Miles’ team heated up, the Cats did not. NU’s statistics were ugly across the board, from its 7-of-23 tally on layups to only 8 points off turnovers. That left McIntosh’s absence to loom large; Collins said the Cats were left to rely on scoring through offensive sets without an individual playmaker like McIntosh.

NU got the shots it wanted, Collins said, but couldn’t get them to fall. Both Collins and Pardon, however, pointed instead to defense in the final minutes as a significant factor in the Cats’ downfall.

“Some games, shots fall. Some games, they don’t,” Pardon said. “But we need to do better on defense. We needed to lock in, and we didn’t do that.”

After a poor nonconference season, NU needed a powerful return to Big Ten play to put itself back in the NCAA Tournament conversation after last season’s historic run.

But at less than full strength, and with McIntosh’s status uncertain for Friday’s game at Penn State, the Cats instead reentered conference play with a worrisome whimper.

“It was like a slugfest grinder game. We knew we were going to have to play a game like that when you don’t have McIntosh,” Collins said. “It was just one of those nights when we didn’t shoot the ball very well.”

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