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Initial Thoughts: Northwestern 74, Purdue 65

Thoughts on Northwestern's 74-65 win at Purdue.

- Alex Olah is the real deal. No, he's not an All-Big Ten candidate, but he's continued to improve throughout the season and put on an outstanding performance against Purdue. It wasn't just his stat line — 14 points and 7 rebounds — which was impressive in its own right. Olah mixed in some new moves and showed a versatility to his game that should have fans excited for the future. He had an impressive spin move down low, a lefty hook and, of course, a three. He's never going to be Cody Zeller, but if he keeps this up, he's going to have a very impressive career at NU.

- After a rough senior night, Drew Crawford responded in his final regular season game. He finished with 27 points and 7 rebounds, sparked an NU scoring run that helped the Wildcats pull away and  hit a big three as the shot clock expired to put NU up by nine with just over a minute to play.

- Josh will have more on this next week, but a major problem for the Wildcats is that their "shooters" aren't really good shooters. Next year, if NU is going to take a step up, Kale Abrahamson and Sanjay Lumpkin have to be better shooting the ball. They hit some tough shots today, but that kind of performance has been the exception, not the rule. Lumpkin, in particular, has shown an ability to get to the rim, but not finish. That will be his area to work on in the offseason.

- Nikola Cerina provided some nice minutes off the bench when Olah was in foul trouble. Purdue could have taken control with Cerina on the much larger AJ Hammons, but Cerina his an open jumper and recorded a steal, helping his team stay in front.

- The offense was much better today, scoring 1.086 PPP. The norm has been somewhere between the Penn State game and this game. The defense stepped up today, too, returning to the form we saw in the middle of the Big Ten season.

- After a decent first half — his best since the game against UIC — Dave Sobolewski struggled even as a facilitator in the second half. Still, the solid pressure defense and the passing in the first half showed some signs of improvement.

- The game finished with 46 (!!!) fouls. #B1GRefs!

- Per WNUR, this is the second time since the 1950-51 season that NU has swept Purdue.

- NU avoids an eight-game losing streak to end the season. The Wildcats finish the Big Ten season 6-12 and 4-5 in road games.

- The Wildcats finished 11th in the Big Ten with the win. That means they will play the six seed (either Iowa, Nebraska or Ohio State) on Thursday at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and will start 25 minutes after the conclusion of the 6:30 p.m. ET game.