Northwestern played probably its best game of the season, coming one defensive stop away from upsetting Michigan State at the Breslin Center. But it wasn't to be, and Michigan State asserted itself in overtime and won by a final scoreline of 84-77.
Let's take a peak at how each individual player performed. Per usual, we'll list players in order of minutes played.
Demps started off slowly but, as he often does, played much better down the stretch and was Northwestern's top offensive option toward the end of the second half.
It was a pretty typical statline for Demps: 17 points on 5-13 shooting with 2 rebounds and 6 assists. His three-point attempt at the buzzer would have won the game for Northwestern, but was just short. I love the way Demps steps up in big moments, as his confidence is infectious, but he continues to take too many bad shots that hurt the offense.
While he's definitely a clutch performer, too many of his shots in crunch time come off the dribble in situations where he has to create a shot out of nowhere. I'd like to see Collins and staff create more creative sets in crunch time.
McIntosh played the best game of his young collegiate career. I'd venture to guess that he's never played a basketball game in an environment like that, but he wasn't fazed in the slightest and showed remarkable poise. His 18/5/5 line is solid for sure, but it was his confident demeanor that was most impressive.
There was a period in the first half where McIntosh looked like the best player on the court. His initial burst was very good and allowed him to get to his spots with relative ease. He also had some nifty wraparound passes to set up open layups for his teammates.
After a finish at the rim, one of the BTN announcers proclaimed that Bryant McIntosh is quickly becoming his favorite player. I'd imagine the same is true for many Northwestern basketball fans.
Olah was frustrating to watch all day. He finished with 9 points and 7 rebounds on 3-7 shooting, but if you didn't catch the game, believe me when I say that Olah didn't play well.
He continues to do one particular thing that is downright maddening to watch game after game after game. When Olah gets the ball in the post and begins to make his move, he brings the basketball down to waist level. It neutralizes his seven foot frame and frequently results in smaller, quicker guys reaching their hands in and getting the steal. My basketball playing career ended (tragically) after middle school, and even I remember our coaches repeatedly telling our bigs to keep the ball high in the post. You have to think Collins and staff have noticed this on film and told Olah, but for whatever reason he still brings the ball way too low.
A lot of players play bigger than their height. Alex Olah plays smaller than his 7-foot-frame.
Law attacked the boards well, but where, how, and perhaps even if, he fits in this offense is still a mystery. Law is a good leaper, but he's relatively slow laterally and often gets beat with simple jab steps. He finished with 5 points and 5 rebounds and didn't stand out much all game.
Law came into the season with a lot of hype, which really isn't his fault, but it's safe to say it's been a disappointing freshman year so far.
Lumpkin played good tough defense and missed his only three point attempt. The kind of stuff Lumpkin adds to a team won't show up in a stat sheet, but he was his usual self today.
Taphorn continues to play well, plain and simple. He didn't hesitate when shooting, and played solid defense, which is usually his weakness. He played a season-high 22 minutes, so it seems like Collins is starting to realize the positive effect Taphorn has on this team.
He finished with 9 points on 3 of 4 shooting from behind the arc. I really like his three point shooting motion and fully expect him to continue to be a solid rotational piece.
Cobb had his best game of the season, going a perfect 5-for-5 from the field. He showed flashes of the scorer he was in years past, and it's a shame that this type of performance isn't the norm for Jershon Cobb in 2015. If we're being optimistic, it's possible that his body is feeling healthy again after the games he took off, but realistically this performance was an aberration.
Kreisberg's limited athleticism is evident when he plays athletic bigs like the ones Michigan State has. He's not a mobile big man and doesn't add much on the offensive end.
If Northwestern wants to be able to compete in the Big Ten in years forward, they'll need more athletic bigs. Northwestern has good size down low, but they really don't have the athleticism to compete with talented big men.
Sobolewski played more than usual, likely because Collins wanted some experience on the floor in a hostile arena. He was fine when he was out there and swished his only shot attempt of the game, a three pointer.
I didn't see enough from Scottie Lindsey and Gavin Skelly to accurately access their play.