Men’s Basketball: Guard play secures a 59-51 victory for Northwestern over shorthanded Indiana


Chirag Bachani/The Daily Northwestern

Junior guard Boo Buie drives against an Indiana defender. Buie had 18 points in Northwestern’s 59-51 Tuesday win over the Hoosiers.

Alex Cervantes, Reporter

Northwestern was given a favorable draw in the moments leading up to its clash with Indiana on Tuesday night, and lucky for the Wildcats, they played the hand they were dealt.

NU (12-10, 5-8 Big Ten) entered with a two-game win streak prepared to face a full-strength Hoosiers side. However, Indiana (16-7, 7-6) was limited to a seven-man rotation due to disciplinary issues, which kept five players, two of which are starting guards, from seeing the floor. 

Despite not knowing of the short-handed Hoosiers roster until shortly before the tip, the Cats and its backcourt took full advantage of their opponent’s lack of depth, winning 59-51. Junior guard Boo Buie led the charge for NU with 18 points, notably burying a floater to ice the game with just over 90 seconds remaining. 

“My goal is to always try to get two feet in the paint when I get the ball,” Buie said. “(I want) to get downhill and make a play … whether that’s to get all the way to the rim or kick and find an open (teammate).”

Buie was the driving force, quite literally, for many offensive possessions in the second half. The Albany, N.Y. native capped off several plays with nifty finishes in traffic to keep the lead. Although it was a low-scoring affair, chipping away at the clock — even when not scoring a bucket — was crucial, coach Chris Collins said. 

Buie might have been the catalyst for the Cats’ offense, but senior guard Ryan Greer’s second-half efforts were equally important. At the 16:25 mark, Greer replaced Buie and immediately made an impact. 

After an Indiana assistant coach was handed a technical foul, Greer stepped up to the line and made one of two free throws. A possession later, senior forward Pete Nance missed a 3-pointer, but Greer grabbed the rebound and then nailed a step-back mid-range jumper to give NU a 38-35 lead. The Hoosiers would never reclaim. 

“I’m so proud of Ryan,” Collins said. “It’s just fun to see his confidence right now. It’s to the point where we’ve got to have him on the floor at the end of the game. He makes free throws, he takes care of the ball (and) he’s a good defender. He’s become such an invaluable piece to our team.”

Greer — who totaled seven points and three assists — and Buie are both point guards by classification, but the pair have settled into a comfortable role playing off of one another. It also affords Collins an opportunity to have two of his best playmakers on the floor at the same time.

The two guards have been through thick and thin together, and their resolve showed Tuesday night.

“I was just hyped up, obviously,” Buie said of the win. “I’m a junior now and winning in this league is hard, as everybody knows. So when you go out there and you win, you celebrate.”

Couple Buie and Greer’s efforts with redshirt junior guard Chase Audige’s 12 points and the Cats were able to beat Indiana and earn a third-straight victory. 

It was not NU’s cleanest or most efficient game, but the collection of key pieces from top to bottom on the roster, got the job done. 

“Our bench in general is a really underrated part of our team,” Collins said. “When you can bring in Ryan Greer, Ty Berry, Elyjah Williams and Ryan Young, you bring in starting level players. We have found a rotation now with those nine guys, and they’re all doing a great job in their roles.” 

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Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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