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: Wisconsin’s stars align behind Storr, Northwestern sputters apart from Buie in Big Ten Tournament loss

Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Wisconsin guard AJ Storr drives toward the hoop against Northwestern Friday.

MINNEAPOLIS — Less than an hour after Zach Edey’s top-seeded Purdue squad churned ahead to defeat upset-hungry Michigan State, Northwestern graduate student guard Boo Buie and Wisconsin guard AJ Storr set the Target Center floor ablaze Friday afternoon.

Two backcourt superstars — the latter, a young talent infusion poised to push for a potential NBA Draft selection, and the former, a trailblazer who has taken his program to unforeseen heights — duked it out in a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal tilt.

“Boo was amazing,” coach Chris Collins said. “It’s kind of fitting, maybe the last Big Ten game he ever (played), the way he played on that stage … He kind of did everything in his power to keep us in it, and we just weren’t able to get the other guys going this afternoon.”

While Buie poured in 29 points on an absurd 7-of-11 clip from beyond the arc, Storrs’ supporting cast helped the sophomore transfer lead the Badgers (21-12, 11-9 Big Ten) to a 70-61 victory, punching their ticket to Saturday’s semifinal against the Boilermakers — a game they’d ultimately take in overtime.

Still, with Collins’ players not named Daniel “Boo” Buie shooting 11-of-38 from the field, the Wildcats (21-11, 12-8 Big Ten) stumbled out of the tournament in their first game off a double-bye for the second consecutive season.

“We really had Boo going early,” Collins said. “But, in order for us to win — Wisconsin is an NCAA Tournament (team), we’re going to be going to a tournament where everybody is really good — you need your complimentary guys to be able to take some pressure off your best guy.”

In the game’s opening eight minutes, everything Buie touched turned to gold. A fifth-year superstar began penning a new chapter to his legendary collegiate saga on a stage where his team historically floundered.

He simply couldn’t miss, sinking four early threes and tallying 16 quickfire points to help build a 21-10 lead. Although it was early, a raucous red and white section stood silent in bewilderment as a conference assassin had tunnel vision for the hoop.

However, Wisconsin worked its way back within three points when Buie hit the deck, pounding the hardwood in agony after knocking knees with an opponent. With Buie on the bench, a potentially potent Badger push proved lethal.

Storr and Wisconsin forward Steven Crowl started to score at will, and the ’Cats couldn’t conjure a response — even after Buie’s return. NU never recaptured the lead after the backbreaking 23-8 Badger run, and Wisconsin battened down the hatches defending its first-team All-Big Ten opponent as coach Greg Gard’s group shut down Buie’s teammates.

Storr secured a game-high 30 points, unleashing an array of jump shots and acrobatic finishes in the lane, while Crowl tallied 19 points and sank 3-of-5 3-pointers.

Junior guard Brooks Barnhizer, who received third-team All-Big Ten and an all-defensive team nod last Tuesday, couldn’t find his touch Friday. Barnhizer converted just 3-of-15 field goals, missing all five long range attempts.

“I definitely didn’t play a great offensive game, but I think the beauty of this game and the beauty of March is whatever position we put ourselves (in), we have a chance to come back out and play again,” Barnhizer said.

With graduate student guard Ryan Langborg fouling out with just five points and sophomore forward Nick Martinelli clanking his patented lefty floater off the rim at an alarming rate, no other starter stepped up to fill the void of Barnhizer’s slowed production.

Buie said his squad’s typically efficient offense didn’t execute Friday.

“I just think that overall as a team we weren’t ourselves, like we normally are,” Buie said. “We have more to play for … We’re going to have to go back home and get ready to play better next time.” 

Now, the ’Cats find themselves in a similar situation to 2023, awaiting their fate on Selection Sunday after losing their first conference tournament game. 

For Barnhizer, the mentality heading into the NCAA Tournament doesn’t change, even with three losses in the past four games.

“(We) kind of treat it the same way as last year,” Barnhizer said. “We looked at that game (and) saw what we didn’t do well. We knew we had another opportunity in front of us. So we just got better from it. That’s exactly what we’re going to do this year, too.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jakeepste1n 

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