After cruising past New Orleans just three days ago, Northwestern seemed primed for another easy win over Chicago State. The Wildcats played poorly in the first half but still took a 9-point lead into the locker room, in position to still potentially cover the -27.5 spread. That would not be the case as the 3-6 Cougars sparked a 15-2 run in the second, taking a 52-50 lead with just over 8 minutes remaining. A Bryant McIntosh jumper put Northwestern back ahead with 6 minutes to go, and the Wildcats narrowly held on to a 68-64 victory.
Bryant McIntosh: C+
37 minutes, 14 points, 4-14 FG, 2-8 3PT, 7 assists, 2 rebounds
McIntosh, like the majority of this Northwestern team, fell in love with the three-pointer on Wednesday. The Wildcats attempted a season-high 27 threes, making only eight even though most of the attempts were uncontested. McIntosh’s shot was short all game, but he did come up clutch when his team needed him. He put Northwestern back ahead at the 6-minute mark and his three with 1:47 left was a dagger to put the Wildcats up by four. McIntosh was guarding sophomore Anthony Eaves in the second half, and got burned by going under the high ball screen. That can’t happen against Dayton on Saturday, let alone in Big Ten play.
Vic Law: C
36 minutes, 18 points, 7-14 FG, 3-6 3PT, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 turnovers
The numbers look good for Law, who put up 18 points and contributed with a few assists and defensive rebounds. He buried a corner three with 5 minutes remaining to stretch the lead to five. That said, Law’s three turnovers really hurt Northwestern. The Wildcats lost the turnover margin by four in the second half, and were outscored on points coming off turnovers. Additionally, with Barret Benson only playing four minutes, Law was often the second biggest guy on the court alongside Sanjay Lumpkin or Gavin Skelly. He has to help out more on the defensive glass though, as Northwestern gave up 13 offensive rebounds to an undersized Chicago State team.
Sanjay Lumpkin: C
39 minutes, 9 points, 4-8 FG, 1-4 3PT, 1 assist, 11 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 turnover
We’ve been singing Lumpkin’s praise for his consistent play all week, but despite falling one point shy of a double-double, he did not have one of his most efficient games. Offensively, it would have been nice if Lumpkin had hit another couple of his shots as the majority were open looks. On the defensive side, Lumpkin collected his fair share of rebounds but is also responsible for offensive rebounds amassed by the Cougars.
Lumpkin was the strongest player on the court, he should not have been getting pushed around like he did on multiple possessions in the second half. Additionally, he forced a pass and coughed the ball up with four minutes to go as Northwestern held a narrow three-point lead. He also missed the front-end of a one-and-one with 2:31 remaining that kept the Cougars within one possession. The numbers don’t show it, but Lumpkin was not his usual self tonight...
And you know what, we’re switching it up. Chicago State enrolled 86 students for the 2016-17 academic year. The school is slowly dying due to state budgets cuts. The basketball program, entering head coach Tracy Dildy’s seventh year, has won one game against Division I opponents in its last 26 tries. No matter who the victor was, it was the Cougars’ night at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Forget DePaul, this was the crosstown matchup we deserved. Two teams who have never made the NCAA Tournament slugged it out, but the Cougars stunningly stole the show.
The official Northwestern highlights don’t do them justice, so I made some myself:
Fred Sims Jr.: A+
40 minutes, 22 points, 7-16 FG, 7-13 3PT, 2 assists, 2 steals, 5 rebounds
Basketball, at its core, is by necessity egalitarian. Anyone can shoot from anywhere on the floor, with varying success. In theory, every team can upset another through wild swings of shooting probability. That’s why we watch the NCAA Tournament. That’s why the sport enthralls millions of viewers across the globe.
Fred Sims Jr. attempted 13 three-pointers; he made seven, of which five were in the second half. His three with 8:50 left in the game gave Chicago State a 50-48 advantage. And while Sims missed his three two-pointers, his 22 points kept Chicago State in the game. And because basketball knows no boundaries and Fred Sims had the night of his life, a 27-point favorite found itself losing to a team that may not exist in the next few years.
Trayvon Palmer: A
40 minutes, 18 points, 7-of-13 FG, 1-3 3PT, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
On Sunday, December 11th, Chicago State nearly upset Saint Louis as Trayvon Palmer’s last-second shot was blocked, leaving the Cougars with yet another loss.
Trayvon Palmer has played 119 minutes of college basketball in his last three games. With eight minutes remaining against Northwestern, Trayvon Palmer started his 111th minute of basketball in less than five days. You might have thought he was tired.
Nah he’s good.
Anthony Eaves: A
22 minutes, 12 points, 5-8 FG, 2-3 3 PT, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks
Anthony Eaves’ playing time was down. After starting two games at the end of 2015-16, Eaves looked like he would be getting a bigger role for Chicago State. That was not the case. Up until the Northwestern game, he had taken eight two-pointers this season, making just one. He hadn’t played over 15 minutes all year.
Against Northwestern, Anthony Eaves played 22 minutes, went 5-for-8 from the field and hit two huge three-pointers that kept Chicago State in the contest. Of course he did. It was just that kind of day.