The Daily Northwestern

Rapid Recap: Northwestern 77, Minnesota 69

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Bryant McIntosh looks for a pass. The senior guard had a strong performance for the Wildcats on Tuesday.

Bryant McIntosh looks for a pass. The senior guard had a strong performance for the Wildcats on Tuesday.

Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Bryant McIntosh looks for a pass. The senior guard had a strong performance for the Wildcats on Tuesday.

Joseph Wilkinson, Sports Editor

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Men’s Basketball


When Northwestern took on Minnesota two weeks ago, senior guard Bryant McIntosh dropped a school-record 16 assists and the Wildcats cruised to a blowout victory over the Golden Gophers. This time, the victory wasn’t as easy, as the Wildcats trailed the majority of the game once again, but took a lead with just under 11 minutes left, battled back-and-forth down the stretch and pulled out a 77-69 victory in the end.

One major difference this time: Minnesota’s star players stepped up. While guard Amir Coffey sat out the last game with a shoulder injury, guard Nate Mason and forward Jordan Murphy combined for 17 points. This time, those three players put up 50 points between them.

But it wasn’t enough for the Golden Gophers, as NU was led to victory by junior forward Vic Law and senior guard Bryant McIntosh. Law scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the team. McIntosh chipped in 18 of his own while adding three assists — well short of his record-breaking 16 — but enough to pull out the victory.

Takeaways

1. Northwestern’s zone defense has shown impressive adaptability. One danger of playing an aggressive, trapping zone defense is allowing open 3-point shooters on the perimeter. The Golden Gophers were able to knock them down in the first half, shooting 6-for-10, but struggled in the second period, going 3-for-14 after the break. This wasn’t the first time the zone was exposed from long range early on — Penn State guard Shep Garner shot 5-of-6 on 3-pointers in the first half on Saturday before the Cats adjusted. While NU’s defense has struggled at times, the ability to make adjustments is an encouraging sign.

2. It helps when your star players are available. Minnesota struggled mightily in the teams’ first meeting partly due to missing Coffey for the entire game and Murphy with foul trouble for the majority of the first half. In the second period of that game, the Golden Gophers’ normally dominant low post presence managed to score 8 points but struggled to establish a rhythm. At home in Williams Arena, it was a different story. Coffey provided key minutes defensively on Law and added 18 points. Murphy grabbed nine rebounds, scored 10 points and was a threat all night down low, but struggled to stop Dererk Pardon in the post. The junior center had 10 points of his own while hauling down eight rebounds, too.

3. These back-to-back wins do not mean Northwestern, itself, is back. Yes, the Wildcats have won back-to-back conference games for the first time this season and three of their last four. But no, these are not impressive wins. Minnesota has now lost six of its last seven games, and Penn State has lost three of four. Both teams are below .500 in conference play and trending in the wrong direction. NU has no quality wins this season, and this team is not significantly different than the one that lost by 15 to the Nittany Lions in early January.

Email: josephwilkinson2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @joe_f_wilkinson

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