Rapid Recap: Northwestern 64, No. 1 Purdue 58


Alyce Brown/The Daily Northwestern

Senior guard Boo Buie dribbles the ball down the court at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The New York native led the team Sunday’s contest with 26 points and 4 rebounds.

Lawrence Price, Senior Staffer

When it comes to facing a top-ranked team in the country, usually, the result of any contest is either a blowout or close game — nothing in between. Whether it be the crowd, adrenal, or mojo, something allows one team to play its best brand of basketball of the season, or the other to not play any games.

With Northwestern’s (18-7, 9-5 Big Ten) first sold out crowd in over a year, and due to the Wildcats’ and No.1 Purdue’s (23-3, 12-3 Big Ten) tight battle out the gate, from the looks of it, the final score would be closer to the latter. And it was, as Chicago’s Big Ten team was able to knock off college basketball’s top team.

By the first media timeout, the two teams were neck and neck, knotted up at six. The scoring bunch was highlighted by redshirt senior Chase Audige’s charity stripe dish to junior center Matthew Nicholson down at the left low block for a slam 11 seconds into the game. On the other end, the Cats’ triple team on Boilermakers’ junior center Zach Edey didn’t work, as he found his teammate sophomore forward Caleb Furst for a dunk less than 20 seconds later. 

However, Purdue quickly broke the tie after the short break, knocking down back-to-back-to-back triples turning their zero point lead to eight. NU was able to chop the Boilermakers lead down to two later in the half, but due to each’s overall struggles from the field, the visiting team held a seven-point lead heading into halftime, 37-30. Purdue had 10 more free throw attempts than the Cats in the first 20 minutes.

In the second half entailed a different storyline, though, with less trips to the charity stripe and better shooting. The spotlight was mainly on senior guard Boo Buie for NU and Edey for Purdue, but it was Audige who was the x-factor. After a silent first half, the guard rose from the dead with less than five minutes remaining, scoring 11 points in that time span — seven straight at one point.

Audige’s help lifted NU over the edge, in David-and-Goliath fashion, to knock off Purdue, allowing fans to rush the court and celebrate — a major win to remember and one for the history books.


     1. Purdue cashes in on open three opportunities in first half, NU stops them in the second

Even though the stat sheet said Purdue was five for 14 from deep in the first half, don’t let the numbers fool you, the Boilermakers were a problem from deep. Throughout the season, NU’s coaching staff has decided to double team certain big men, such as Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis or Wisconsin’s Steven Crowl, so with Edey in town this was a no-brainer. However, as a result of these double and triple teams, the Boilermakers would have at least one player on the perimeter that was open, leading to these threes.

And some of these came at the worst possible time, as Purdue’s trifecta of threes in the first half gave them the separation they needed against NU score wise. Yet, the locker room break allowed coach Chris Collins and his squad to recuperate, forcing Purdue to miss all of its three point attempts in the second half.

         2. Northwestern’s defense again proves it can hang with best

Now, Purdue doesn’t flex the highest-powered out there — they average the fifth-most point in the Big Ten. But when you have arguably the favorite to win national player of the year on your team, any defense will have a tough time. However, the Cats’ defense proved to be an efficient cog once again, forcing the Boilermakers into multiple turnovers due to their low block traps, perimeter defense (outside the open threes), and contest on nearly every shot. There was an emphasis on crashing the boards on every possession. 

Although the Cats’ had their fair share of droughts on offense, Purdue did as well, a major reason behind why the game stayed as close as it did. At a point in the first half, NU was one for their last seven shots, while the Boilermakers were one for their last eight. However, as the contest continued, the Cats defense got stronger and stronger, leading to the big win.

      3. The reintroduction of Boo Buie’s alter-ego, Agent 0, and the rebirth of Chase Audige.

When it comes to rising to the occasion in big games, it has become second nature for Boo Buie. With his partner in crime Audige struggling from the field early on, NU’s offensive options were limited, but Buie carried the load for the both of them — leading the team with 26 points. The senior had 13 points in the first half, and 13 in the second half. At one point of the second block of 20 minutes, Buie and Edey were trading buckets back and forth. 

Audige’s bucket-getting finally came alive late into the second half, with seven straight points for the Cats’ less than four and a half minutes to go — an essential piece of the puzzle that sealed the deal for the Cats in the win. With the production of both star players, NU couldn’t be stopped, and stacking up their resume even more.

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