Rapid Recap: Michigan 68, Northwestern 51


Gabe Bider/The Daily Northwestern

Boo Buie fights for position in the paint. The senior scored 23 in the Cats’ loss to Michigan 68-51.

Lawrence Price, Senior Staffer

Northwestern and Iowa’s prolific shooting in the first half on Tuesday was a head-banger — a sheer battle of strength on the offensive end. Just to prove it, both teams were knotted up at 39 at the break, each shooting over 45 percent from the field overall. 

Although the Cats didn’t walk away from Iowa City with a victory, their very solid shooting performance made revenge against Michigan this Thursday a real possibility. By the end of the defensive-led contest, though, NU couldn’t turn out a winning result, dropping their second consecutive loss, 68-51. 

Buckets were tough to come by for both teams in the first 20 minutes. As the first media timeout sounded, a little over four minutes in, it illuminated the struggles from the field for both teams throughout the half. The Wolverines held a 6-4 lead due to a 3-14 combined shooting performance, and by the break, Michigan led 26-25. Redshirt senior Chase Audige was uncommonly 0-9 from the field.

Seconds into the second set of 20 minutes, though, Audige finally found the back of the net, finding his bread and butter spot from the right elbow and hitting the fadeaway jumper. He wasn’t done though, getting his hands in the cookie jar for a steal, and finding junior guard Ty Berry for a fastbreak layup.

However, the Wolverines proceeded to go on their own 6-0, which quickly turned into a 12-0 run with six straight points by guard Joey Baker, and eventually 22-4 with less than 10 minutes remaining. From there, the Cats couldn’t bounce back, as the Wolverines lead only got bigger and bigger, defeating NU for the second time this season, 68-51.

With a trip to Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday, the Cats have an opportunity to round out their recent strenuous schedule on a high note.


  • Audige not Audige-ing like he needs to be

Even though the halftime score is a testament to the stout defense played by both teams, in big games like this, it’s critical that big players prevail. Sadly, Audige wasn’t able to step up to the podium, not finding the back of the net once in the first half and shooting 0-9 from the field. Even with his four steals, Audige ended the game having made four of his 16 shots.

Flashing back to last season, there were multiple games where either Audige or senior guard Boo Buie went quiet from the field while the other carried the load offensively. This was largely the case here, as even on 9-19, Buie finished with 23 to Audige’s 10. Yet, with the success NU has had this season, it’s been clear that both Audige and Buie need to be on the money if the Cats want to win. 

  • Cats struggle mightily on defensive rebounding front

It’s a problem when the first bucket of the game is a result of not grabbing a defensive rebound. It’s even more of a problem when it continues throughout the game, though, which was shown numerous times. And what does that lead to? Second chance points. The Wolverines only scored eight in the category, but after snagging 11 offensive boards in the first half, those opportunities can be game-changing, especially if the game is close. 

This was even more pivotal for the Cats offense, which shot 34.6 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from deep. With these woes, on top of struggling to grab rebounds, it can make for a very long night.

  • Hunny, I don’t feel so good….

Let’s be honest, NU was supposed to win all three contests last week. Although Wisconsin proved to be a tough matchup, the Badgers entered Welsh-Ryan Arena losing three of their last four. Nebraska and Minnesota hold the bottom two spots in the Big Ten. So, with two away matchups against Iowa and Wisconsin, and a contest against Michigan at home in the middle, NU knew that the true test was this week.

However, after a disappearing act in the second half against both Iowa and Michigan, it begs the question on not only what Sunday against Wisconsin will look like. And more importantly, the last eight conference matchups. It’s not time to worry yet, as NU has had their hands full with their NBA-like schedule the past two weeks, but it is a major concern. 

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Related Stories:

Men’s Basketball: Cats’ offense and defense sputter in late second half versus Iowa, leads to 86-70 defeat

Men’s Basketball: Cervantes: Northwestern’s offensive stagnation, Iowa explosion coalesce into 16-point loss 

Rapid Recap: Iowa 86, Northwestern 70