Men’s Basketball: Another day, another win — Buie and the boys defeat Iowa 80-60 in collective team win


Katie Chen/The Daily Northwestern

Guard Boo Buie scans the court while dribbling. The senior dropped 23 points and eight assists in the winning contest, the fifth time in the last six games.

Lawrence Price, Senior Staffer

Everyone has dealt with that one germ bug they can’t get rid of. The one that lingers for longer than expected, almost like a prolonged cold or a frustrating virus — it’s a continual problem. 

Well, that’s exactly what Iowa has been for Northwestern, across multiple sports.

Since the Hawkeyes’ 33-13 smackdown on NU’s football team on Halloween weekend, Iowa women’s basketball and soccer continued on the Wildcat attack, beating NU 93-64 on the court and 2-1 on the field, respectively. And it’s been the same case for men’s basketball, dropping its first contest against the Hawkeyes 86-70. The last time the men’s basketball team beat Iowa was in 2017.

This was true until today, as the Cats (20-7, 11-5 Big Ten) were able to get rid of the six-year bug, defeating Iowa (17-10, 9-7 Big Ten) in front of a home crowd 80-60. Behind the antidote of senior guard Boo Buie, and the medicines of sharing the love assist-wise and defensive fortitude, NU was able to snap the losing streak.

“Couldn’t be prouder of my team,” coach Chris Collins said. “To be able to hold (Iowa) to 60 points was quite a feat, and it shows a lot about our guys.”

The Cats picked up where they left off from their Wednesday win against No. 14 Indiana, scoring buckets and finding the open man. After senior forward Robbie Beran’s easy right-handed layup and junior guard Ty Berry’s right corner three during the Cats’ first two possessions, NU’s other three starters got involved two plays later. 

Buie whipped the rock into the paint to double-teamed junior center Matthew Nicholson, who quickly passed it back out to senior redshirt Chase Audige, who was more open than the law allowed, for an easy three.

And that was how NU registered most of its points in the first half — moving the rock. Early into the half, the starting guard trio of Buie, Audige and Berry knocked down three trifectas out of four possessions, a huge byproduct of the team’s ball movement. The Cats finished with seven assists in the 20-minute span, an area they only average around 13 per game in, and shot 46.2 percent from deep.

Collins emphasized how much sharing the wealth on offense meant for the Wildcats’ production. This included giving props to Berry and sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer, who finished with 16 and 12 points, respectively. This was Berry’s highest scoring game since Nebraska last month.

“This was a team win,” Collins said. “If we start getting some production like that, you know, then we become harder to beat.”

Per usual, though, NU’s defense was its calling card, sticking the Big Ten’s highest-scoring offense in a space it hasn’t seen much this season: offensive purgatory. Although Audige, the Cats’ top defensive threat, faced limited playing time with two fouls by the 11-minute mark, NU made it difficult for its opponent to find the bottom of the basket as well. Additionally, Berry stepped up in Audige’s absence, playing 19 of 20 first-half minutes.

The Cats’ perimeter defense was on point, leading to Iowa struggling mightily from deep, making two of 17 three-point attempts. This success mixed into their tough transition defense, limiting the Hawkeyes’ fastbreak opportunities, an area that excellent shooting teams like them thrive on. They had four fastbreak points in the first half.

Even though NU faced its own segments of shooting woes, which included more than five minutes of no field goals, it was still too much for the Hawkeyes. By the break, the Cats led 37-26, even after giving up a buzzer beater three by guard Ahron Ulis. However, with another half to go — the half Iowa dominated the Wildcats in their last meeting — the second half meant more than ever.

“The resolve of the players was, ‘Hey, we’re going to keep this thing, they’re not coming back,’” Collins said. “It’s one thing if the coach is saying that in the huddle, but when the players are saying that, and they actually believe it, that’s when you know you got something good going.”

The Hawkeyes began to string together momentum in the second half, cutting NU’s lead down to seven with a little less than 14 minutes to go. However, like medicine, or at least the good kind, it takes a minute for it to truly kick it. And that’s exactly what happened in the second half: It was all purple and white. 

No matter how much money they had in the bank, the Cats couldn’t buy a bucket to save their life during their last matchup versus Iowa, getting outscored 47-31 in the second half. This time around, the Hawkeyes found themselves in the hot seat. NU’s defense put the perimeter funk on Iowa, forcing seven turnovers and the Hawkeyes to shoot one for seven from deep — three for 24 on the day.

On the offensive end, the Cats focused more on spreading the love and the “there’s no ‘I’ in team” mentality. No player had more than ten points in the half, but four players had seven or more points: Buie (9), Berry (8), Nicholson (8) and Barnhizer (7).

A large factor that went into this motion was again the ball movement, with eight assists. Seven came from the hands of Buie, alternating between his bucket-making and point general bag throughout the game. He finished with 23 points and eight assists, continuing his campaign for All-Big Ten first team. Buie credited his teammates for his performance and expressed he focused on more than the glitz and glamor, but rather the bigger prize.

“I’m just here to win,” Buie said. “Coming into the season, coming back, that’s what I told myself. I’m going to come back, and I’m going to help this team make another NCAA appearance.”

With multiple and-one plays for Nicholson, and Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey’s ejection with seven minutes remaining in the contest, NU’s win was coming into fruition. 

As the clock neared the 45-second mark and NU held a 19-point lead, Buie remained stationary near the logo while Welsh-Ryan Arena erupted on all sides of the first, second and third floors. Buie’s first step in-and-out move to the left quieted the crowd in suspense, but seconds later, the arena lit back up again, as Buie knocked down another top of the key three to put the nail in the coffin. 

By the final buzzer, the applause grew even louder and the Cats etched their fifth straight win in the book. What a way to end the week. 

“This team is on a different mission,” Buie said. “We remember what everybody was saying before the attention, so, that’s what we are focused on and we’re going to continue our grind.”

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