In the Hall of Fame Tip Off this weekend, No. 20 Northwestern Men’s Basketball (3-2) took one step forward and two steps back. The Wildcats defeated La Salle (3-2) 82-74 on Saturday before taking a 85-49 drubbing at the hands of Texas Tech (4-0) in the championship game on Sunday.
Northwestern looked solid in their first game at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. On a night where the Wildcats shot 56 percent from the field, Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey led the way with 21 and 20 points respectively. Dererk Pardon added 14 points and seven rebounds in arguably his best game of the year, and Aaron Falzon added 11 points in his first game since two seasons ago.
With the game tied at 13 early, Northwestern whipped up a 33-11 run in the final 11 minutes of the first half to go into the break up 46-24. The ‘Cats shared the ball well as scoring was distributed over six scorers during the run.
In the second half, NU had another defensive lapse, giving up over twice as many points (50) as they did in the first half. B.J. Johnson paced La Salle with 15 second half points and four rebounds, but three consecutive 3-pointers from Lindsey, McIntosh and Falzon essentially put the game out of reach with 3:55 to go. Northwestern wasn’t dominant, but they were good enough to warrant this ESPN feature and feel confident heading into the championship.
The championship didn’t go so smoothly.
Trying to win their first-ever tournament, the Wildcats were lost against Texas Tech. Led by 25 points from Keenan Evans, the Red Raiders looked like the definitively better team offensively and defensively for 40 minutes. Texas Tech raced out to a 9-0 lead and maintained a fast pace throughout, much like Creighton did on Wednesday. In the first half, Scottie Lindsey scored 17 points while the rest of the team went 2-12 from the field. After six straight points from Falzon pulled the score to 39-29, Texas Tech went on a 10-0 run and closed out the half 41-25. In the second, no Northwestern player scored more than six points, and they shot 20 percent from the field. NU tied their season high in turnovers with 17, and Chris Collins was handed his worst loss in his Northwestern career.
Northwestern is basically a lock to fall out of the top 25 in the next AP poll. Concerns about the defense have turned into legitimate problems that need to be monitored for the foreseeable future (we miss you, Sanjay). Facing massive but fair scrutiny, they will look to right the ship next Friday at home against Sacred Heart.