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The Daily Northwestern

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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 92, No. 1 Purdue 88

Gabe Bider/Daily Senior Staffer
Graduate student guard Boo Buie drives to the rim. In NU’s win over Purdue, Buie recorded a team-high 31 points.

Nearly eight months ago, Northwestern stunned the nation’s top-ranked team behind a late surge from former guard Chase Audige. Students stormed the court as March Madness dreams were actualized in a mere three-minute span. 

Some 290 days later, the Wildcats (6-1, 1-0 Big Ten) hoped to start their conference schedule with another statement victory. On the back of three top-15 victories in Maui, vying to defend its conference crown, No. 1 Purdue made its highly-anticipated return to Evanston. 

For the second-time in the calendar year, the ‘Cats knocked off the Boilermakers (7-1, 0-1 Big Ten) and sent a message to the college basketball world. 

In front of a roaring, sold-out Welsh-Ryan crowd, both teams started off hot offensively. Junior guard Brooks Barnhizer’s pull-up jumper capped 19 combined points between the two teams by the game’s first media timeout. 

A 14-5 Boilermakers run extended NU’s deficit to as large as 13 midway through the first half. Graduate student guard Boo Buie’s pair of free throws snapped a near-four minute ‘Cats scoring drought. 

Down the stretch of the first half, both offenses went cold — going scoreless over the final two minutes of the frame. NU’s ability to stop Purdue on the other end trimmed its deficit to eight entering the intermission. 

Out of the locker room, the ‘Cats raced off to a 14-7 scoring run and took the lead for the first time since the game’s opening minute. After the teams exchanged baskets, graduate student guard Ryan Langborg’s pull-up three leveled the score at 53-53 midway through the second frame. 

After both teams exchanged leads over the final several minutes, Buie’s running floater with 3-seconds left gave NU a two-point advantage with 3 seconds to play, but Edey’s final-second layup sent the game into overtime knotted at 76. 

Throughout overtime, both teams traded 3-pointers, keeping the score level. Buie’s running layup extended the ‘Cats advantage to three — an advantage they did not look back from. 

Here are three takeaways from NU’s victory over the Boilermakers.

1. Langborg and Berry provide much-needed scoring lift

Following NU’s win over Northern Illinois on Monday, coach Chris Collins stressed the importance of the offense not being just the Buie and Barnhizer show. The ‘Cats had five players record double-digits and had complementary offensive production. 

On Friday, when NU faced multiple scoring droughts over the course of the first half, Berry and Langborg provided essential relief. Exchanging baskets with the Boilermakers midway through the first half, Berry’s euro-step layup and corner 3 kept the ‘Cats within striking distance. Similarly, Langborg recorded the final five NU points in the first frame, limiting the hosts’ deficit to eight after the first 20 minutes. 

With Buie eclipsing double-digit points but Barnhizer struggling from the field entering the intermission, Berry and Langborg’s relief was ever so important. The duo combined for 15 of the ‘Cats’ 32 first half points and recorded the team’s first six second-half points. 

Langborg and Berry remained instrumental as NU sealed its comeback attempt. Combining for 19 second-half points, the duo continued to relieve the ‘Cats offense as the Boilermakers continued to exchange leads down the stretch. 

2. After unable to keep Boilermakers off the line, Hunger provides relief

If the ‘Cats were going to pull off another upset on Friday, their ability to keep Purdue center Zach Edey and coach Matt Painter’s crew off the charity stripe was imperative.  

But foul trouble plagued NU throughout the first frame as the ‘Cats faced difficulties trimming into the Boilermakers lead through committing several fouls. Purdue was in the bonus with eight minutes left in the half and double-bonus, with four minutes left. 

The ‘Cats big men saw themselves fall victim to sending Edey to the free throw line. Senior center Matthew Nicholson and graduate student forward Blake Preston each committed two fouls in the first frame. As a result, the 7-foot-4 Boilermaker center attempted 10 free throws in the first half. 

Making matters worse for NU was the striking free-throw disparity and Purdue’s ability to convert. Over the first half, the Boilermakers shot 14-of-17 from the charity stripe, significantly higher than the ‘Cats 2-of-3 clip. 

As a result of foul-trouble, the ‘Cats turned to multiple big men to counter Edey. After Nicholson committed his fourth foul midway through the second half, sophomore forward Luke Hunger saw extended playing time. Despite similarly committing his fourth foul with nearly seven minutes remaining, Collins elected to keep Hunger in, who rattled in a 3 to extend NU’s lead to three. 

3. ‘Cats shore up rebounding after initial struggles 

Despite its struggles committing fouls, NU’s defense held the Boilermakers in check from the field. Swarming across the court containing multiple shooters and forcing attempts late in the shot clock, the ‘Cats restricted Purdue to shoot 11-of-26 from the field and 4-of-12 from distance in the first half. 

Yet, NU faced difficulties corralling the rebound on several Boilermaker misses. With multiple players needed to box out Edey, the ‘Cats surrendered six offensive rebounds, leading to six second-chance points. 

This issue continued to hinder NU in the second frame. After the ‘Cats took the lead minutes out of the locker room, their inability to stop Edey from second-chance opportunities restricted their ability to extend the lead. NU lost its second lead of the half minutes later as a result of a second-chance layup by Purdue guard Fletcher Loyer. 

Yet, the ‘Cats held the Boilermakers scoreless on six attempts from beyond the arc over the second frame. After corralling rebounds off misses down the stretch, NU recovered from its initial struggles and ultimately secured the victory in overtime. 

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Twitter: @aayushyagarwal7

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