Men’s Basketball: Northwestern falters down the stretch, loses to Oklahoma 76-69 in overtime

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Men’s Basketball: Northwestern falters down the stretch, loses to Oklahoma 76-69 in overtime

Ryan Taylor goes up for a layup. He missed a key shot in Northwestern’s loss to Oklahoma.

Ryan Taylor goes up for a layup. He missed a key shot in Northwestern’s loss to Oklahoma.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ryan Taylor goes up for a layup. He missed a key shot in Northwestern’s loss to Oklahoma.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ryan Taylor goes up for a layup. He missed a key shot in Northwestern’s loss to Oklahoma.

Andrew Golden, Reporter

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Men’s Basketball


After losing to Michigan by just two points almost three weeks ago, coach Chris Collins said he wasn’t a moral victory guy—despite playing the Wolverines close, Collins said he and his team came to win.

Not being able to finish games against top teams has plagued Northwestern all season. In matchups against the currently No. 4 Wolverines and No. 22 Indiana, the Wildcats lost both by just two points.

On Friday, once again, NU (8-4, 0-2 Big Ten) kept the game close against Oklahoma (11-1), pushing the Sooners to overtime, but after senior forward Vic Law’s three-pointer put NU ahead 69-66 with 4:22 remaining in overtime, Oklahoma went on a 10-0 run to close out the game and beat the Cats 76-69.

“It’s disappointing. It hurts,” Collins said. “We’ve had three of these. We gotta meet them head on. We gotta face it. We still believe we are a very good basketball team.”

The 2018 matchup between these two teams was a lot more competitive than the previous year, a game that NU lost by 26. Without lottery pick Trae Young raining threes on the Cats’ defense, NU got off to a hot start.

With just under 11 minutes remaining in the first half, the Wildcats got out to a quick 19-8 lead. But the Sooners battled back, going on an 18-6 run to take its first lead of the game with 4:59 remaining in the first half.

Despite the big run, NU was able to contain Oklahoma offensively in the first half. In the first 20 minutes of the game, the Cats’ defense forced the Sooners to shoot 36.1 percent from the field, while blocking six shots. NU, on the other hand, shot 48.1 percent from the field, but nevertheless the game was tied at 32 headed into halftime.

In the first two and a half minutes of the second half, the Wildcats and Sooners traded leads seven times before the Sooners extended their lead to 48-42, the largest lead that either team had in the second half.

NU — just like they have all season — came back, going on an 11-2 run to take a 53-50 lead with 8:19 remaining in the game. With the game tied at 66, both teams missed baskets and, with less than a minute left, graduate guard Ryan Taylor had a chance to win the game. But he missed an open three pointer, sending the game into OT.

“If you would’ve told me before the game that Ryan Taylor was going to have a bare-ass open three at the last second to win the game, I would’ve signed the contract right there,” Collins said.

After scoring the first points in overtime, the Wildcats went cold, and three straight baskets from Oklahoma forward Kristian Doolittle essentially iced the game.

“We just gotta play a little tougher down the stretch,” Law said. “We gave (Kristian) Doolittle some easy buckets in the paint…we gotta be tougher. I gotta be tougher.”

All season, NU’s success offensively has been reliant on the play of its veteran leaders and it was no different on Friday. But while Law led the team with 23 points and senior center Dererk Pardon added 15 points on 7-13 shooting, Taylor, once again, struggled to find his rhythm.

The graduate transfer from Evansville was a dismal 5-16 from the field and was even worse from behind the arc, making just two shots on 11 attempts. There are four players in the NCAA who take 7.5 or more threes per game (min. 3 games) and shoot worse than 30 percent from three. Ryan Taylor is the only one in that group who plays in a mid- or high-major conference. Only one time has a Big Ten player done this over the course of a full season — Michael Finley in 1995.

“(Taylor’s) getting good looks,” Collins said. “When you’re getting good looks and you put the time in in practice, you gotta keep shooting. I want him to do that. That’s what he does.”

Taylor made some big shots earlier in the game — two crucial three-pointers that extended the Cats’ lead in the second half. But he also took some ill-advised shots in overtime that helped Oklahoma get the ball back and extend its lead.

NU will have to regroup against Columbia in eight days before heading into Big Ten play. Collins said the team still knows that they have the potential to be a really good team.

“It’s clear as day that we’re a very good team,” Law said. “We’re playing these teams and there’s something at the end. I think we should be winning these games. I don’t think there’s any reason why we shouldn’t be 11-1.”

Email: andrewgolden2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @andrewcgolden

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