Men’s Basketball: Boo Buie takes another step in injury comeback against Ohio State


Joshua Hoffman/The Daily Northwestern

Boo Buie makes a move. The guard finished with 10 points but struggled shooting from the floor in NU’s loss to Ohio State.

John Riker, Assistant Sports Editor

Coming into his second game back after suffering a stress fracture last month, freshman guard Boo Buie had a lot on his plate — the rust of an extended absence, an undermanned rotation made thinner by a foot injury hampering freshman forward Robbie Beran and an experienced and hungry Big Ten opponent in Ohio State.

Right after the team’s shootaround and just hours before tipoff, Buie learned of the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

“It just broke my heart,” Buie said. “I remember in my room on the Nerf hoop doing fadeaways, yelling his name. When I found out, it really meant something to me. That was my idol growing up and I used to wear his number eight jersey all the time when I was a kid.”

Buie, coming off the bench for the second straight game, was still able to put on a show for a raucous Welsh-Ryan Arena crowd and reached double digits in scoring totals. Buie’s performance contained both electric flashes and frustrating freshman mistakes, and although the 71-59 defeat to Ohio State (13-7, 3-6 in Big Ten) wasn’t the result Buie or Northwestern (6-13, 1-8) hoped for, it was a step forward.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the opening minutes, but after Buie took a hard fall to the baseline on a made layup, the gleeful tenor of the game changed. Buie didn’t leave the court, and even rebounded a Buckeye miss on the ensuing possession.

Ohio State swiftly regained the lead on a 29-10 run to build a 10-point lead, but Buie hit a deep three to regain momentum and made a free throw before halftime to cut the deficit to three heading into the break. Buie added another triple just minutes into the second frame, giving NU a 44-41 lead.

The Buckeyes took command in the final minutes, holding Buie without a field goal and the sputtering the Cats’ offense to just 24 points in the half. Coach Chris Collins kept Buie on the court in the final minutes, but the freshman could not come up with answers as Ohio State pulled away.

Buie’s stat line highlighted the duality of his performance: 10 points — the entirety of the points scored by NU’s bench — but on 3-for-12 shooting with a trio of turnovers and a pair of missed free throws in 26 minutes of action. But after missing nearly a month, Buie’s night was needed progress. Buie skillfully and fearlessly attacked the basket as well as pulling up for long threes to space the floor. Most importantly, he showed no signs of injury.

“I feel like I’m coming back fine,” Buie said. “I’m just trying to come back and play the right way, make the right play and help my team win.”

Now with eight conference losses, the young Cats know the success of their season lies beyond just the standings. The development of NU’s freshmen and sophomores — Buie included — is a priority this season, though the inexperience of the squad stuck out against a veteran opponent on Sunday.

“When you play in this league and you’ve got all young guys, you can’t allow the young guys to get beat down because every team is really good,” Collins said. “That (experience) matters in the last five minutes, that’s when that experience really comes in and that’s where we need to grow.”

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