I , like, really don't know what to do with myself right now. Northwestern just won four Big Ten games in a row. Like, WHAT?! It seems like for the past week, we keep saying this is the best game Northwestern has played and the Wildcats did it again in their 72-65 win over Indiana on Wednesday night. Sure, Northwestern is only .500 for the season, but the postseason is looking more and more likely with each win. And maybe one day, just maybe, we could, you know, go dancing like Chris Collins did in high school.
P.S. I really don't care that they almost lost this game and collapsed with a huge lead with under two minutes left. Just get used to it. It happens.
Overall grade: A
First time winning four Big Ten games in a row since 1967. Northwestern began the game well and just continued to outwork and out-shoot Indiana as the game wore on. I know it's cliche, but it really seems like Northwestern has turned a corner and the young guys are starting show how dangerous they could be in the very, very near future. There really wasn't a facet of the game in which Northwestern didn't outshine Indiana.
In the first half, the now-patented Wildcat 2-3 zone looked decent, but Indiana was knocking down open looks from the outside. The rotations were a little sloppy and the ball pressure left some to be desired. But in the second half, Northwestern absolutely shut down Indiana. The Hoosiers couldn't get anything going. James Blackmon shot just 1-10 from the field and scored just six points compared to his season average of 16.1.
Northwestern's offense... it's crazy how far it has seemingly come in just a matter of weeks. The ball is moving from side-to-side. Players are driving and kicking. Shooters are hitting open looks. The turnovers are still an issue, but because the Wildcats are playing with a little higher tempo, the turnovers aren't necessarily as devastating.
The move to the 2-3 zone has done wonders for Alex Olah. He gets to hang out near the rim and protect the paint and not have to worry about chasing guys on the perimeter. Against Indiana, Olah played well, collecting two blocks but he was really effective on the boards. He pulled down 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the year. Yeah, he also did something embarrassing, but who cares? I certainly enjoyed that and everything he did well on the court.
Tre Demps is an absolute stud. He's just, at times, a really, really smart basketball player. He's no longer settling for bad shots (he was 8-12 from the field against Indiana) and took over in the second half. He had 16 of his 23 points in the second period to keep Northwestern ahead of the Hoosiers.
Before the game, it was basically a foregone conclusion that Bryant McIntosh was going to go off for 25 points. C'mon, the kid from the Hoosier State beating up on the Hoosiers? It was going to happen, right? RIGHT? But instead of going for 25 big ones, McIntosh did something even more "Indiana" to Indiana. He struggled from the field as he only scored 4 points but still was able to find his teammates for nine assists and also added six boards.
What has gotten into this kid? He's been super impressive over the last few games. He's shooting confidently and his rebounding has been impressive as well. Plus, he literally rode Sanjay Lumpkin like a horse during a bench celebration but more on that later.
Sanjay Lumpkin played pretty well. He, as is often the case, had a few plays that made me scratch my head. But, he also made a few plays that were just insanely unlikely due to his constant hustle. Plus, he magically turned into a horse during the game so that's pretty dope.
Nathan Taphorn didn't play his best game, but there's little to be particularly down about. He hit a three, which is always good. He played fine. His bench celebrations were fine. He gets a fine grade.
Scottie Lindsey only logged 12 minutes in the game as he may still be feeling the effects of a sore hip. He got up to block a dunk in the game, and hit a corner three but didn't really contribute much else.
It's amazing to me how easily I can predict when the announcers are going to mention that Dave Sobolewski went to high school with Frank Kaminsky and that it was Sobolewski, not Kaminsky, that was the star of the high school team. It's really uncanny: Sobo steps to the free throw line, cue anecdote about Kaminsky in high school. As far as the game itself, Sobolewski played okay. He didn't turn the ball over and did well to spell McIntosh and help him handle some pressure.
Two fouls. Five minutes. Gavin Skelly is already becoming one of the Big Ten's top big men.