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Northwestern-Chicago State rapid reaction: Wildcats obliterate Cougars 96-31

Basketball was played, technically.

NCAA Basketball: Chicago State at Northwestern Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern (6-4) got back to its winning ways with a 96-31 drubbing over Chicago State (2-11). To say this game wasn’t close would be a massive understatement.

Vic Law led all scorers with 18 points, while Aaron Falzon, Scottie Lindsey and Dererk Pardon got into double figures, as well. The Wildcats dominated the Cougars in all facets of the game, putting the clamps on Chicago State from the tip and building an early lead.

It was a rough start for the Cougars, who didn’t score for the first 4:40 of the game. Granted, Chicago State isn’t a good offensive team, but the Wildcats were everywhere defensively, tipping passes, getting over picks and making the Cougars work for every shot. That defensive focus, coupled with a blistering start from downtown (5-of-7 shooting) got Northwestern out to a 23-2 lead.

It only got worse for Chicago State, a school that is nearly bankrupt and graduating 11 percent of its students and only keeping the lights on for its basketball program by playing these buy games. The Cougars scored eight — I repeat, eight — points in the entire first half, shooting 2-of-19 from the field and committing 15 turnovers. Simply put, Chicago State is a not a good basketball team. The Wildcats didn’t make any mistakes defensively, and as a result, the Cougars couldn’t manufacture any easy baskets. They went without a field goal for the final 12:08 of the first half.

For Northwestern, the first half was nearly impeccable. The Wildcats shot over 50 percent from the floor and from downtown and assisted on 14 of 16 field goals. Four players outscored Chicago State by themselves in the first half. You get the picture: The Wildcats played well. The Cougars did not. The Cougars can probably play better than this, but they did not.

There wasn’t much to write home about in the second half. Northwestern expectedly took its foot off the gas pedal, with Collins removing his starters early. Despite that, Chicago State remained quite bad, and so the Wildcats’ lead ballooned to as many as 65 points. All you need to know is that Tino Malnati and Charlie Hall played. They did not score, tragically.

While against a weak opponent, this win is a confidence-booster for Northwestern, who has already suffered more nonconference losses than it did last season. The team’s strong play on both ends of the floor was encouraging for a team that has been inconsistent to start the year.

The Wildcats’ next game will be against Valparaiso (8-2) on Thursday at Allstate Arena.