It was much more difficult than expected, but Alex Olah-less Northwestern passed its first test, beating Loyola (Md.) 74-59 on Sunday night. Give the Greyhounds credit, but Northwestern came out flat. Looking bewildered without its senior big man for an extended period of the game, the Wildcats had to overcome a double-digit deficit at halftime. Led by Bryant McIntosh's career-high 33 points, though, the Wildcats, at 12-1, will head into conference play having finished their non-conference slate with just about the best record that was in the realm of expectation. Here are the grades from the victory.
Bryant McIntosh: A+
The sophomore had a career-high and was the best player on the court by far, even in the first half, when his team was playing horribly. Yes, McIntosh had four turnovers, but that is negligible considering his overall body of work. He kept his team in it when everyone else was half-asleep and led them to victory in the second half. He's becoming one of the top guards in the Big Ten in just his second year.
Tre Demps: C+
Demps was oddly invisible despite playing nearly the whole game. He scored on a couple nice midrange floaters, but didn't do much when Northwestern could have used his help in the first half and overall had little impact on the game. The small positives, though, were his seven assists and just one turnover.
Sanjay Lumpkin: C
After showing some offensive prowess at times this season, Lumpkin struggled with just two points, tying his second-lowest output this year. He blew an easy layup and was out of control on a drive to the basket that resulted in a wild shot. The eight rebounds were a nice touch for Northwestern's ultimate glue guy, but it just wasn't his night on the offensive end.
Dererk Pardon: B+
Oh, welcome to player grades, Dererk! After getting his redshirt burnt earlier in the evening, the true freshman played the fourth-most minutes on the team and, in general, played well. He showed a high activity level and good athleticism, collecting four rebounds -- two offensive -- and a block in his debut. He's still very raw, but his energy helped the team considerably. Obviously burning the redshirt isn't ideal, but the upside Chris Collins talked about in the preseason is clearly there.
Scottie Lindsey: A
Lindsey and Pardon were the game's most pleasant surprises, and this was Lindsey's second-best performance this season (he scored 26 against New Orleans). The athletic wing really had his jumper going tonight, going 3-for-3 from deep, and his energy and offensive explosiveness in this game were huge off the bench. As always, though, Lindsey will have to prove he can bring this type of energy and offensive prowess on a nightly basis to take the next step. He certainly has the ability.
Joey van Zegeren: B+
It was a welcome return for the big man, who added three blocks (including one absolutely ferocious one) to the stat line above. His 17 minutes probably signal he's not 100 percent healthy, but his size and physical tools add a nice dimension to this team, and he'll be counted on for the next few weeks to be the main big man. Overall, it was a nice return from injury for the Dutch big man.
Aaron Falzon: C+
Stop me if you've heard it before: Flazon hit two really important threes but struggles other than that. (See: DePaul). It's somewhat worrying that he didn't contribute any rebounds, especially considering he's playing some four, but he's a guy who can catch fire and really help this team out of slumps with his shooting. Then again, he can also contribute to them.
Gavin Skelly: D
Skelly didn't do anything wrong per se, but he didn't really do anything, and in 12 minutes, that's not good.
Nathan Taphorn: N/A
Three minutes played aren't enough to warrant a grade.