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Men’s Basketball: Aaron Falzon’s return kept NU’s win over Chicago State interesting

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Men’s Basketball: Aaron Falzon’s return kept NU’s win over Chicago State interesting

Miller Kopp sizes up the Cougars’ defender. The freshman forward scored a career-high 17-points in a win on Monday.

Miller Kopp sizes up the Cougars’ defender. The freshman forward scored a career-high 17-points in a win on Monday.

Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

Miller Kopp sizes up the Cougars’ defender. The freshman forward scored a career-high 17-points in a win on Monday.

Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

Miller Kopp sizes up the Cougars’ defender. The freshman forward scored a career-high 17-points in a win on Monday.

Charlie Goldsmith, Sports Social Media Editor

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Men’s Basketball


Aaron Falzon checked into a basketball game for the first time all season Monday with Northwestern up 30 points and fewer than seven minutes left.

The junior forward’s presence meant that for the first time since last season, the Wildcats could rest their five most utilized players in garbage time. Perhaps more importantly, they added another forward who can stretch the floor and expanded their rotation to 11 players.

Against Chicago State (3-10), NU (8-3, 0-2 Big Ten) was able to enjoy small victories like this and the career-high 17-point outing from freshman forward Miller Kopp. The Cats won easily 88-46 following a strong start from Kopp and the ordinary authoritative play of senior forward Vic Law and senior center Dererk Pardon.

Ahead of a home date against Oklahoma on Friday, the contributions from Falzon and Kopp were appreciated by coach Chris Collins, who’s kept a very short rotation in NU’s last three games.

“You saw that the guys love him,” Collins said. “He was able to hit a couple shots, and the guys [were excited because they] see how much he cares and how he loves to get out there and help. It was just great to have him back.”

In a game that wasn’t competitive after Kopp made an open three to start the game, there were some other highlights including junior center Barrett Benson’s first career three, a Pete Nance alley-oop and one of the better passing games of Law’s career.

Law had dropped 17 points — which four years ago would have been noteworthy but is now commonplace, and Pardon finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.

Falzon’s return apparently kept fans in their seats throughout the blowout, and he made his final two three-point attempts to close the game with six points. Senior guard Jordan Ash also returned to action late in the game after missing last week’s game against DePaul, but it didn’t go as smoothly. Ash entered the game, missed a jump shot, recorded an assist and a rebound and returned to the bench in what amounted to less than a minute of play.

Following the game, Collins said Ash has been dealing with a knee injury since last season, leaving him in and out of the rotation depending on how he feels. After one minute against the Cougars, Collins said Ash asked out of the game, and he watched the conclusion from the bench.

Now 11 games into the season, where Falzon fits in the rotation is unclear. Before his strong performance Monday, Kopp played just nine minutes against Michigan and then 37 against DePaul in the following game, and freshmen forward Pete Nance and guard Ryan Greer have been in and out of the rotation altogether.

According to Kopp, the players are seeing this as a testament to the team’s depth.

“Early on in the season, coach always preached to us that we have five guys on the floor and a bunch of guys on the bench that can really play,” Kopp said. “The biggest thing for us is knowing that if somebody’s tired, if somebody’s not having their best night, there is someone right behind them who can do exactly what coach needs them to do.”

For Falzon — who started 10 games last season and had five double figure scoring games — there are consistent minutes available. Collins said he didn’t want to alter his rotation to accomodate for Falzon’s return, so he followed his usual substitution pattern before until the final six minutes.

While Falzon was not able to play until the end of the game after having just three practices with the team, Collins said he’s envisioning Falzon playing a bigger role later in the year.

“[Falzon’s] an older guy, he’s been here for four years,” Collins said. “He’s played in big games and he can make shots. So he’s going to be a guy that we look to as we go forward.”

Email: charliegoldsmith2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @2021_charlie

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