EVANSTON, IL.—Vic Law is back, ladies and gentlemen.
Northwestern Men’s Basketball opened the fourth season of the Chris Collins era and the final season of the pre-renovation Welsh-Ryan Arena with a resounding 94-63 win over Mississippi Valley State, but the story of night was Law’s much-anticipated return.
It wasn’t all pretty from Law—he had several careless turnovers in the first half and struggled at the free throw line—but his energy, length and scoring ability were on full display in his first regular season game action in over 18 months. He led the way for the Wildcats with 18 points. Scottie Lindsey chipped in 17 points of his own and the duo combined for six three-pointers.
The win—which moved Collins’ record in season-openers to 4-0—came as no surprise, but was encouraging nonetheless.
The Wildcats got off to a fast start, thanks in large part to Law. He scored 10 points in the first half, including a thunderous dunk after stealing an inbounds pass. He also did this early in the second half:
The Delta Devils hit some threes early, but it wasn’t long before Northwestern’s offense got going. Lindsey led the way with 13 points going into the break. The Wildcats led 12-6 at the under-16 timeout, and 24-13 at the under-12 timeout.
The offense stalled for a bit in the middle of the first before coming alive again near the end of the first half and opening up a 37-19 lead.
The second half was more of the same, and the team cruised through the period.
The combination of Dererk Pardon and Gavin Skelly looked strong on the inside, though they both had size advantages in the post. Pardon looked like his usual self on the glass, corralling seven boards, though he struggled to finish near the rim on a few occasions. Skelly added strong defense in the post, totaling four blocks.
It was a relatively quiet night for point guard Bryant McIntosh. The junior captain scored 11 points, and struggled shooting the ball from beyond the arc.
- Law is electric. His shooting was reminiscent of the Vic Law we saw during conference play of his freshman year, when he was ninth in the Big Ten in three-point shooting. He also added six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. The Wildcats don’t have a single player who can do what he can, and he’ll have to step up his play when he faces tougher competition. Law’s performance was everything a Northwestern fan could have asked for in his return to the court.
- Curiously, we didn’t see a lot of Aaron Falzon on the floor. Falzon—a former four-star recruit—played just three minutes in the first half. It will be interesting to see if Falzon sustained an injury in his short stint on the court, or if he’s just not a big part of the rotation right now. This came as a surprise given the 24.6 minutes per game he played last year, and the fact that Nathan Taphorn, who played just 11.8 minutes per game last season, entered the game before Falzon.
- Scottie Lindsey looked strong. Playing with a size advantage, Lindsey went to work, scoring 17 points on 6-13 shooting.
- Isiah Brown looked more and more comfortable as the game wore on, but he’s still a major work-in-progress on the defensive end. He picked up two quick fouls upon entering the game. Brown’s ability to score and create off the bounce was evident though, and he figures to be a key member of the backcourt rotation moving forward.
- Bryant McIntosh looked a little off all night. He had four assists and two turnovers, but didn’t look like the all-Big Ten candidate Collins believes he can be.