Men’s Basketball: Cervantes: Boo Buie propels Northwestern to three-point victory against Wisconsin


Alyce Brown/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior guard Boo Buie dribbles the ball against Wisconsin. Buie led Northwestern with 20 points, seven boards and five assists in the Wildcats’ 66-63 win over the Badgers.

Alex Cervantes, Senior Staffer

Senior guard Boo Buie missed his first three shots in Northwestern’s tilt against Wisconsin Monday. He looked rusty and a little uncomfortable, forcing up a trio of rather contested looks. His third attempt, a pull-up jumper at the top of the key, barely grazed the rim.

The Badgers’ (12-6, 4-4 Big Ten) physicality seemed to be wearing on the New York native just minutes into the contest, a concerning reality for the man whose shoulders the Wildcats’ (13-5, 4-3 Big Ten) offense often relies on.

As he trotted back down the court, coach Chris Collins shouted something from the sideline. Buie responded with his palm toward the floor, a signal that seemingly everything was going to be alright. He needed to settle down; Collins wanted him to relax.

“The great thing about Boo is how much he’s matured,” Collins said. “Early in his career, he was easily rattled, maybe by tough coaching, maybe by a tough whistle or not making shots and (he) grew through that. He’s just been solid as a rock for us.”

And settle in, he did.

Buie finally got on the scoreboard over 11 minutes into the opening frame — courtesy of a touch shot in the lane. Instead of continuing to hoist up contested jumpers, Buie put his head down and charged into the paint, hunting for contact. He was rewarded with three trips to the charity stripe, burying all five free throws. His first-half rebound helped build a 32-26 NU advantage by the intermission. 

Collins said that “a lot” is thrown on Buie’s plate on both ends of the floor, alongside redshirt senior guard Chase Audige. The pair kickstart much of NU’s offense, whether as scorers or facilitators, and then have to play “lockdown, grind-it-out, physical defense.” 

Injuries sustained by sophomore guard Julian Roper II and junior guard Ty Berry signaled that both Buie and Audige were in it for the long haul — they played 37 and 39 minutes, respectively. The duo combined for 36 of the Cats’ 66 points.

“I’d like to rest them more, I really would,” Collins said. “But I tell them a couple of times during the game, ‘Guys, just get to media timeout — there’s no subs for you,’ … We needed them to both play well. Tonight, we don’t win the game if they don’t both play well.”

Still, in another low-scoring Welsh-Ryan Arena barnburner, it was Buie’s dynamic second-half play that provided an extraordinary lift. 

After Wisconsin exploded out of halftime with an 8-0 run, Buie stymied the momentum by burying a triple at the top of the key. When the Badgers stretched the advantage to four just minutes later, Buie found senior forward Robbie Beran for a three-pointer. He then nabbed back-to-back buckets to level the game at 42-42.

“We were just really dialed in,” Buie said. “We’re seniors and we’ve been through a lot of games and (have) a lot of experience … Every night (in the Big Ten) is a war.”

As the minutes went by, Wisconsin and NU continued to exchange blows. With just over five minutes remaining, late in the shot clock and facing Badger forward Tyler Wahl, Buie drove right, absorbed the contact and banked in a runner to claim a 58-57 lead. 

With under three minutes remaining, Buie, with his back to Wisconsin guard Chucky Hepburn, screamed at his teammates. Sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer had just gotten a tough driving layup to fall, reclaiming NU’s lead, 62-61. Buie was imploring his team to make a defensive stand.

“We can’t keep trading buckets — we got to get a stop,” Buie said. “When we score, they can’t score and then we’ve gotta go score.”

The Badgers dropped in just a pair of free throws in the final 3:13 as Buie and the Cats stood tall defensively, forcing seven missed shots en route to a three-point win.

In a game compounded by injuries and foul trouble, Buie put the Cats on his back, leading the team with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists. It was a resounding and complete performance from the senior captain — a testament to how far both he and his team have come.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

Related Stories:

Rapid Recap: Northwestern 66, Wisconsin 63

Northwestern loses offensive steam in second half to Michigan

Rapid Recap: Michigan 85, Northwestern 78