The Cardiac Cats struck again, edging Elon 68-67 to remian undefeated. Here's some initial reaction to Northwestern's thrilling overtime win over Elon:
-Tre Demps carried Northwestern in the final five minutes. He hit some big shots down the stretch and finished with 21 points. With the Cats down seven in the final minutes, Demps drilled a three to give the Cats life and proved once again he's NU's go-to guy in the clutch, taking NU's final shot in regulation. He missed the jumper short, but used a nifty spin move to create separation. It was a good look. Another Wildcat also established himself as a late-game option...
-With Elon leading by 10 mid-way through the second half, the game was on the brink of getting out of hand until Vic Law got the Cats back into it. Sensing the urgency of the situation Law started to be more aggressive on offense. He scored on back-to-back possessions to bring NU within six. He continued to attack the basket and get to the line late and made some key jumpers to keep NU within striking distance in the second half.
-I honestly don't know how Northwestern won this game. The Cats trailed for almost the entire game, but scratched and crawled down the stretch to pull out the victory. It'll be interesting to hear what Chris Collins has to say after the win, because his team did not play well at all today. If it weren't for another special late-game performance from Demps, NU would have dropped its first game of the season.
-Northwestern had too many breakdowns on defense. At one point the Cats allowed back-to-back wide-open layups because of poor communication and egregious rotations. What's more Northwestern really struggled to defend the perimeter. Elon went 10-18 from three, thanks in large part to....
-Tanner Samson led all scorers with 24 points. He hit eight (!!) threes. The Cats hit three all game. What's even more amazing, Samson established himself as a deep threat minutes into the game and yet the Cats kept leaving him open. Collins tried Law, Lumpkin and even McIntosh on the sharp-shooter, but nothing worked. They kept selling on Samson's pump fakes. He still made NU pay into overtime, when nobody picked him up in transition and he nailed a wide-open triple. It was baffling to see him continue to be left open.
-Bryant McIntosh had a tough game. "Bryant wasn't himself today," Collins said post-game. He struggled to get anything going offensively and committed some costly turnovers. Still, he found a way to contribute late, tying the game with a beautiful baseline drive and finish with less than a minute left in the game.
-In the last 10 minutes of the first half Northwestern's offense looked like it did last year: multiple times the Cats wasted away the shot clock passing around the perimeter, only to take a bad shot. This even happened out of a timeout on NU's final possession of the half. Collins was absolutely livid.
-With NU's defense ailing, Johnnie Vassar made his Wildcats debut early in the second half. Vassar brought much-needed energy on the defensive end, but still showed signs of a freshman playing in his first college game. He was a tad too aggressive on defense (he picked up two fouls within minutes) and was a little wild on offense (on one occasion he attacked the rim rather recklessly and was whistled for an offensive foul).
-Collins emptied his bench earlier than usual, mostly because the Cats were playing their second game in three days. Freshmen Gavin Skelly replaced a struggling Alex Olah minutes into the game and played pretty well. Olah had another rough offensive performance. He finished with just five points and three turnovers and missed two crucial free throws with 30 seconds left in overtime. Fortunately for the Cats, Elon didn't capitalize.