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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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Men’s Basketball: Northwestern mounts effortless first-half comeback following Buie’s record-shattering shot against Michigan

Anna Watson/The Daily Northwestern
Graduate student guard Ryan Langborg attempts a layup against Michigan Thursday.

When graduate student guard Boo Buie’s driving layup opened the scoring in Northwestern’s matchup against Michigan Thursday night, John Shurna’s all-time scoring record of 2,038 points looked primed to be shattered in a matter of minutes. 

Early on, the Wolverines (8-19, 3-13 Big Ten) contained Buie and the Wildcats (19-8, 10-6 Big Ten), as the All-Big Ten playmaker attempted to seal the record and propel his team toward a decisive home victory. Scoring nine unanswered points following Buie’s initial make and riding a 16-3 run, Michigan held a sizable 11-point advantage seven minutes into the game. 

“Everyone knew what was at stake — all of these kids are on social media,” coach Chris Collins said. “(Michigan) was ready to go and had energy. We were disjointed and had to gather ourselves and fight back.” 

The ‘Cats struggled to lift the proverbial lid off the basket, beginning the contest at a 3-of-14 clip from the field, and the squad remained in crossroads between running regular offense and feeding the ball to its All-Big Ten playmaker.

NU also had a pair of turnovers in the game’s opening minutes and were forced to heave shots late in the shot clock after a near-four minute scoring drought. 

“They came out and punched us in the mouth early,” Collins said. “We really struggled defensively in the first half. They got whatever they wanted — (including) a number of threes. Fighting our way back and getting the lead at the end of the half was huge.” 

But, as he has done over the past few seasons, Buie put the team on his back. 

The game’s balance shifted after Buie drained a deep trey to become NU’s career points leader midway through the first half. 

“When the three went in, I couldn’t celebrate like if we were up,” Buie said. “Coming into the game, I knew it didn’t have to be all about me. That made it easier to just go out there and just play free and not worry about (the record).” 

Instilling a newfound sense of energy into an arena he has helped fill night in and night out, Buie jump-started his squad’s rapid comeback entering intermission.  

“I was glad (Buie) was able to get (the record) done in the first eight minutes, so he could settle into the game,” Collins said. “You can only imagine as much as you want to try and not be distracted — everyone’s talking about it. Once he got the record, he played really great.” 

Behind six three pointers in the final 10 minutes of the first half, the ‘Cats mitigated early shooting woes. Junior guard Brooks Barnhizer and graduate student guard Ryan Langborg’s treys fueled an 8-0 NU scoring run and trimmed the host’s deficit to one with just over four minutes remaining. 

Minutes later, Langborg’s trey in the final seconds of the first frame gave the ‘Cats their first lead since Buie’s opening score. 

During the ten minute stretch, the ‘Cats had just one turnover and held the Wolverines scoreless from the field during the half’s final three minutes. 

Canning eight of NU’s 10 threes, Langborg and Barnhizer’s combined 39 points comprised more than half of the offense’s total production. 

“We started off slow,” Barnhizer said. “Once (Buie’s) shot went in, we realized this was a special night and we (needed) to pick it up. There was no way we could let him break the record with a loss. He did a great job of getting us going and everybody followed suit.” 

Stretching the lead to a game-high 20 points in the final minutes of the second half, the ‘Cats cruised toward victory after brushing off their slow offensive start. 

Surrounded by teammates, coaches and fans, Buie celebrated his honor postgame with a rudimentary griddy celebration. As he danced off the floor, his team neared one step closer to its next goal — making the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history. 

“(Every milestone) is important,” Collins said. “A big reason I wanted to come here was to create history. When you have the opportunity to be somewhere that hasn’t had that level of winning and can do things that have never been done, it’s really cool.” 

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