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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Rapid Recap: Northwestern 89, Northern Illinois 67

Emma Richman/The Daily Northwestern
Graduate student guard Boo Buie dribbles baseline against Northern Illinois guard David Coit. Buie notched a team-high 23 points in Northwestern’s 89-67 win over the Huskies Monday.

Eight days removed from a nine-point defeat to Mississippi State in the title game of the 2023 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, Northwestern hosted Northern Illinois in an in-state directional school nonconference clash. 

The two squads met last November, with the Wildcats knocking off the Huskies 63-46 in a low-scoring affair — an early indication of NU’s “rock fight” style of play it would lean on later in the season. On Monday, the pair of in-state foes got up and down the floor with greater frequency, culminating in each team eclipsing its point total from a year ago by the under-12 timeout.

Still without guard Keshawn Williams, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury last season, Northern Illinois entered Monday’s contest riding a five-game win streak. Propelled by the play of dynamic scoring guard David Coit, the Huskies were averaging 91 points per game over its string of victories. 

The ‘Cats and Huskies made it clear defense was optional in the first 20 minutes, producing a high-scoring, back-and-forth display. Each squad shot above 53% from the floor and 44% from beyond the arc, with the visitors enjoying a one-point edge courtesy of 19 first-half points from forward Xavier Amos.

However, NU’s defense tightened in the second half, stifling Coit and Northern Illinois’ perimeter shooting. Making his 100th career start in Evanston, graduate student guard Boo Buie, who was mired by some first-half foul trouble, poured in 16 of his 23 points in the second frame to carry the ‘Cats to a 22-point victory.

Here are three takeaways from Monday’s game:

1. Clash of offensive styles

Ahead of the early week showdown, the difference between NU and Northern Illinois’ offensive approaches was sizable.

Coach Chris Collins’ unit, preferring a more methodical approach in the halfcourt, entered the game ranked 356th nationally in adjusted tempo and averaged 19 seconds per offensive possession, according to KenPom. Conversely, the Huskies look to get up and down the floor, ranking 14th in adjusted tempo, with an average possession length of 16.3 seconds. 

In the first half, Northern Illinois’ style of play appeared to win out, as the two teams combined for 83 points and both squads shot above 50% from the floor. 

But in the second half, an uber-efficient scoring performance — a blistering 70.8% shooting from the field and 50% from 3-point range — from NU saw the hosts open up a double-digit lead and never look back.

2. Amos erupts for Northern Illinois, Buie responds for NU

Amos, who set a career-high mark of 21 points in a win over Little Rock on Nov. 18, erupted against the ‘Cats early in Monday’s game. He averaged a point per minute, connecting on 8-of-9 attempts from the floor en route to a 19-point first half performance. 

However, much like the Huskies’ offense in the final 20 minutes, Amos was also stymied by NU’s defense. He finished the day with 26 points, a career mark, but it wasn’t enough to combat the scoring surge from Collins’ graduate student captain.

As he so often is, Buie was the engine for the ‘Cats. Coming off an inefficient two-game showing in Connecticut, the Albany, New York, native rebounded Monday, notching a team-high 23 points and seven assists against Northern Illinois.

3. NU prepares to host No. 1 Purdue Friday

Do you get déjà vu?

The Boilermakers, returning to the mainland after knocking off three top-25 foes en route to the Maui Invitational title, are the nation’s new No. 1 team. 

With Big Ten play commencing in early December, the ‘Cats prepare to host the reigning National Player of the Year in center Zach Edey and Purdue on Friday.

NU, the beneficiary of a 17-3 run to close the game, knocked off the top-ranked Boilermakers for the program’s first win over an AP No. 1 squad. The ‘Cats will look to replicate last February’s magic in front of another packed student section and Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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