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Initial Thoughts: Minnesota 54, Northwestern 48

Thoughts on Northwestern's 54-48 loss to Minnesota:

- What a game from JerShon Cobb: Cobb had the second-best scoring performance of his career, finishing with 23 points, one shy of his personal best that he set against Minnesota in the 2012 Big Ten Tournament (also a loss). His offense has been inconsistent at times, but he has the ability to hit the three, and tonight, his shot was great. For NU to pull off any more upsets — or at least some exciting wins against mid-tier teams — Cobb is going to have to have some strong offensive efforts and hit open shots. If he can do that, NU is a much better offensive team. Chris Collins said earlier this year that for NU to win, Cobb and Drew Crawford might need to combine for 40 points. While that's an exaggeration, those two certainly need to play well offensively for NU to have a chance. Cobb did his part tonight.

- Disappointing game from Drew Crawford: Drew Crawford's last game against Minnesota helped him earn national player-of-the-week honors. Today, he put together arguably his worst performance of the conference season. He took bad shots, struggled with turnovers and couldn't hit open looks when he had them, finishing with 2 points on 1-for-15 shooting. If he had played better, NU could have had its best offensive performance of the conference season.

- Good Olah, bad Olah: After an impressive start to conference play, Alex Olah hit a slump. However, he had a solid game against Minnesota and showed why fans can be so frustrated with him and excited about his potential in the same game. On one possession, Olah had two offensive rebounds and a layup. On another, he finished a tough three-point play. However, he missed a wide-open layup at one point and had a bad turnover during a key stretch in the second half. Rodger Sherman put it nicely:

That's par for the course in the development of a big man. It takes time for centers to find their way in major-conference college basketball, and Olah is still figuring things out. He still have to improve his post moves and rebound better, and he can't miss as many shots close to the bucket. But he's improving, and he's only a sophomore. It might take a little while longer to "get there," but Olah definitely has the potential to be a capable Big Ten center. Tonight showed more glimpses of that.

- First half offense: While the Wildcats couldn't finish the game at over a point per possession — the only time they have done so in the Big Ten this year was at Minnesota — they were able to finish with 1.04 PPP in the first half. Part of that was on Cobb, but still, the offense had much better movement than in the last two losses. That's at least a minor victory.

- Second half offense: Basically, the first half offense didn't stick. NU had .649 PPP in the second half. As you might expect, things like this happened:

More thoughts

- The matchup of JerShon Cobb and DeAndre Mathieu was fun to watch. Cobb is normally NU's best defender, but he had trouble defending the speedy Mathieu. The duo combined for 39 points.

- Cliche people like to say Sanjay Lumpkin "does all the little things." Apparently, making shots near the basket is not a little thing. He has to get stronger and fix that in the offseason.

- During a timeout, a guy made six jump shots to win free wings from Buffalo Wild Wings for a year, then hung on the rim to celebrate. Maybe he should walk on.

- Dave Sobolewski played his first non-garbage time minutes since the Iowa game when Cobb was whistled for his fourth foul. However, he contributed nothing on offense and got beat on defense on one occasion.

- This was Minnesota's first win in Evanston since 2008.


- Collins think Olah's injury is a rolled ankle, but he's not sure yet.

- Richard Pitino said Twitter is "anti-team." Right.