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

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

The Daily Northwestern

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Men’s Basketball: Buie, Northwestern prevail in Big Ten backcourt battle against Maryland’s Jahmir Young

Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Graduate student guard Boo Buie matches up with Maryland guard Jahmir Young. The two combined for 56 points Wednesday night.

As an icy Arctic blast crept southward from the Canadian heartland, crafting a tundra-esque temperature to match Evanston’s snow-capped corridors, two veteran backcourt barons prepared for a battle for the ages Wednesday night.

Donning his signature white headband and geared for a grudge match with a compression sleeve firmly fitted to his left leg, graduate student guard Boo Buie looked to defend the house he helped build — a post-renovation Welsh-Ryan Arena boasting the tales Buie and his boundless bag of tricks have written.

While Northwestern’s infallible leader gathered his group for a typical pregame shootaround, another battle-tested combatant sought nothing more than an elusive victory in enemy territory. 

There’d be no aura of deception for Maryland guard Jahmir Young. The Upper Marlboro, Maryland, native sported a prominent pink pair of sneakers — the brightest footwear in the building.  

A slasher with the ability to extend his range, Young and his Terrapins marauded an upset victory at No. 10 Illinois three days prior. Now, they turned their attention to Buie and the Wildcats. 

“We knew coming into this game, it was gonna be tough,” coach Chris Collins said. “Maryland was coming off maybe their best performance of the year with a win at Illinois. … They’re athletic, they’re physical.”

In a back-and-forth encounter between two point guards with 10 combined years of collegiate experience, Buie landed the decisive blow to bludgeon his backcourt rival before the two meet again for a final showdown slated for Feb. 28.

Neither guard grabbed a stronghold through the first half, which marked a proverbial feeling out period between two physical opponents seeking to establish the tempo. With the first half clock churning down to triple zeros, Buie advanced the ball upcourt, eyeing his window.

Both Buie and Young had tallied three assists at this point, with Young’s eight points one-upping Buie’s five. But, NU’s go-to scorer made the final first-half statement, swerving beyond three Terrapin defenders to unleash his giant-killing floater.

From beyond the free-throw line, Buie’s patented dagger pierced through nothing but net, handing the ‘Cats a 32-28 halftime lead. Buie said the shot, one of several signature attacks, has developed through years of pickup play.

“I grew up shooting the floater my whole life because I always played outside at the park — and no one can shoot outside,” Buie said. “I used to play against older guys … and had to find ways to get my shot off.”

After the squads retook the court for second half action, Young elevated his game to unparalleled solo levels. The former Charlotte standout poured in 28 of his team’s 41 second-half points, converting 8-of-11 field goals and draining 11-of-11 shots from the charity stripe.

“He was able to get downhill and draw some fouls,” Buie said of Young. “Credit to him for being able to get downhill and make plays, but we made stops when it mattered.”

NU possessed few answers to stymie the all-conference assassin, as a low-scoring rockfight unraveled into a shootout. With the result in the balance, both coaches leaned on their experienced stars to push their teams across the finish line.

Although 10 players occupied the court, Buie and Young entered into a dogged duel that capped the contest’s final two minutes and 30 seconds. After both guards sunk a pair of free throws, Young drove the lane for two consecutive layups, knotting the game at 64-apiece. 

At the one-minute mark, Buie landed a pullup jumper to reclaim the lead, but Young dealt a stepback 3-pointer just 30 seconds later to put Maryland ahead 67-66. As Buie prepared to engineer a game-clinching possession, an entire arena expected him to hold the ball for a late shot.

Instead, the graduate student guard accelerated to his left, outpacing Terrapin forward Donta Scott to the rim and laying the go ahead bucket against the glass, with 20 seconds to spare. 

“The only agenda in that locker room is winning, (and) it starts with your best player,” Collins said. “A guy like Boo, he comes back for his fifth year, he wants to win. It’s not about records, it’s not about numbers.”

The ‘Cats never relinquished their stronghold from this juncture, as Buie thwarted Young’s attempt on the defensive end.

Despite Young’s 36-point performance to keep Maryland in contention, Buie’s 20 points and seven assists helped lead NU to a vital home victory before its Nebraska road trip Saturday. 

“You saw two of the better guards — forget about the Big Ten — two of the better guards in the country make a lot of plays,” Collins said.

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Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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