Men’s Basketball: Northwestern drops 13th straight game to No. 21 Wisconsin

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Kelsey Carroll/The Daily Northwestern

Boo Buie drives to the basket. The sophomore guard scored 19 points in Northwestern’s loss to No. 21 Wisconsin.

Gabriela Carroll, Web Editor


Men’s Basketball


Northwestern lost its 13th straight game on Sunday.

The losses pile up like sitcom episodes, repeating the formula over and over again. The Wildcats jump out to a strong start but are doomed by turnovers and poor shooting. Occasionally, in a twist, they start badly, and rally late, but never make it over the hump.

Against No. 21 Wisconsin, the formula sunk them. In the 68-51 loss, NU (6-14, 3-13 Big Ten) kept pace with the Badgers (16-8, 10-7 Big Ten) for most of the first half. Sophomore guard Boo Buie, back in the starting lineup after four games coming off the bench, led the scoring, with all of the Cats’ first seven points.

“In the Illinois game, (Buie) found some things,” coach Chris Collins said. “He was able to start attacking. He got into the paint, made plays. I felt like with this game, I wanted to have another ball handler in there and he was ready for it.”

Despite weaker shooting from some of NU’s other starters, the Cats led for over seven minutes, and the teams traded blows through much of the first half. Over one five-minute stretch, NU held Wisconsin scoreless, but the Cats failed to build a significant lead in that time to counter.

Instead of taking a lead, NU struggled to score down the stretch, committing three turnovers in the final five minutes. The Badgers went on a 14-4 run to enter halftime with a 10 point lead, their largest yet at that point.

Aside from Buie, the Cats didn’t get production from the usual scoring options on Sunday. In the first half, junior forward Pete Nance scored just two points. NU’s other three starters — sophomore guard Chase Audige, junior forward Miller Kopp and sophomore center Ryan Young — each failed to score.

In the second half, the Cats got off to a good early start, cutting the Badgers’ lead to as few as six points. But every time NU chipped away, Wisconsin responded with a big basket.

With 10 minutes left in the second half, the Badgers began to pull away. Turnover issues befell NU again. They committed 14 in the game, and Wisconsin capitalized, scoring 21 points off of those turnovers.

“It’s guys being indecisive, not making decisions fast enough, including myself,” Buie said of the turnover issues. “Being more sharp, more attention to detail, meaning knowing the time in the game, where you’re at and what type of transition look you have. Knowing whether to attack or to pull it out.”

After the Badgers made their run and built their lead to as many as 19 points, the Cats continued to struggle to make shots. With Wisconsin up by 19, Audige and Buie hit two straight threes, but even that burst of offense failed to lead to a significant momentum shift.

Collins said his team played sloppily on Sunday, and that based on practice, he expected NU would play better than they did. Buie shared that sentiment, saying that their challenge is playing as well on game days as they do in practice.

“We’ve actually been having really good practices,” Buie said. “It’s really frustrating that tonight we weren’t able to execute offensively and share the ball like we do in practice. In practice, we got the ball zipping around, we’re moving hard, screening hard. What we do in practice, we just have to carry over to the game.”

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Twitter: @gablcarroll

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