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Northwestern vs. Rutgers player grades

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It’s an up-and-down report card for the Wildcats after a win that shouldn’t have been as close as it was.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern narrowly avoided disaster by escaping Welsh-Ryan Arena with a 69-65 victory over Rutgers on Saturday night. Bryant McIntosh led the way with 18 points and the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute. Here’s how each individual player fared in the game.

Bryant McIntosh - A

18 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 1 steal on 6/11 FG, 1/3 3FG, 5/6 FT in 36 minutes

Northwestern’s point guard and leader was the MVP of this game with one of his most efficient performances in Big Ten play. The game-winning three was the play everyone will remember, but he was masterful throughout. He had both his floater and mid-range pull-up working and was nearly unstoppable in the pick and roll with Dererk Pardon. He was crucial in a game that may have kept the Wildcats’ tournament dreams alive.

Dererk Pardon - B

12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 1 block, 1 steal on 5/7 FG, 2/3 FT in 36 minutes

With 14:11 remaining in the FIRST HALF, Pardon had 8 points and 7 rebounds. It appeared that Pardon was well on his way to a huge day and would possibly flirt with a 20/20 game like he did against Nebraska.

Then...Pardon disappeared. Despite playing nearly the entire game, he managed just one more rebound and 4 more points. Pardon’s lack of size was obvious against a great rebounding team. Rutgers out-rebounded Northwestern 39-31 overall and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds (45% rate). That is simply inexcusable if you’re Pardon, and it begs the question as to why the bigger Barret Benson only played 4 minutes. Still, Pardon hit a couple big free throws late and did his part in the first half.

Vic Law - B-

8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 2 steals, 2 fouls on 2/7 FG, 1/4 3FG, 3/4 FT in 34 minutes

Law, who was so good for most of this season, has taken a step back in recent weeks. He is shooting just over 25 percent (16/63) from the floor over the last six games. It’s fair to wonder if fatigue has been an issue for a player who has played no fewer than 35 minutes in those six games while constantly guarding the opponent’s best guard.

Despite his struggles, Law’s athleticism is unmatched by anyone on Northwestern’s roster, which is why Collins can rarely afford to take him out. Law had another awesome alley-oop and hit a big corner three in the first half, but was inefficient and merely solid on defense overall.

Scottie Lindsey - C

6 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, 1 turnover, 4 fouls on 2/8 FG, 1/6 3FG, 1/2 FT in 24 minutes

Scottie Lindsey is back! Scottie Lindsey is not, however, fully healthy yet. And that should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. Lindsey couldn’t exercise at all for three weeks while recovering from mono; it was bound to take him a while to get back into his rhythm.

Against Rutgers, Lindsey received a massive ovation from the crowd when announced as a starter, and was anxious to get going right away. He took (and missed) the first shot of the game, and missed two more before hitting consecutive shots late in the first half. He was a step slow on defense, too. Lindsey’s four assists were a positive!

Hopefully, Lindsey’s conditioning will improve against Illinois on Tuesday and he will get close to 100 percent for the season’s final three games and postseason.

Sanjay Lumpkin - D+

0 points, 0 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 steal, 2 fouls on 0/3 FG, 0/1 3FG, in 21 minutes

This wasn’t Lumpkin’s game. At all. He was a complete non-factor on offense; a possession-staller who was never a threat to score. He was solid on defense but provided very little help on the glass, leading to his fewest minutes played in a conference game this season.

Gavin Skelly - B+

9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 1 block, 2 fouls on 3/5 FG, 2/3 3FG, 1/2 FT in 18 minutes

Skelly’s night went from forgettable to unforgettable in a matter of minutes late in the contest. He struggled massively in the rebounding department all night, missing a box-out that led to a Rutgers offensive rebound on more than one occasion. If the game ended after 33 minutes, Skelly would almost certainly have received a D in this article.

Luckily for him, it didn’t. Skelly came up huge down the stretch, knocking down a pair of three-pointers that may have saved Northwestern’s season. First, he buried one from the top of the key to cut a late six-point deficit in half. Then, with the Wildcats down four with two minutes to play, he swished a corner three that was the second-biggest shot of the night. Skelly had missed nine straight from deep prior to Saturday’s game, and said afterwards that he had been working tirelessly after practice to break out of his slump. He also had a huge block and the tap-out that set up McIntosh’s shot during the last three minutes. Hard work pays off, and Skelly’s heroics were enough for us to forget about the rest of his performance.

Nathan Taphorn - A

8 points, 1 assist, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, on 3/6 FG, 2/4 3FG, in 14 minutes

Taphorn is Mr. Consistent. For the third straight game, the senior marksman drained a pair of triples. He has the purest stroke on the roster and added an off-the-dribble, mid-range jumper as a rare bonus. Oh, and he blocked two shots? Stud.

Isiah Brown - A-

4 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, on 0/2 FG, 0/1 3FG, 4/4 FT in 13 minutes

One game after scoring a career-high 19 points, Brown didn’t make a field goal against Rutgers. However, he only took two shots and was able to contribute in other ways, which is a welcome sign of progress for the freshman. Brown dished out two assists and knocked down all four of his free throws in the game’s final 7:15, including the two that iced the game with 3 seconds to play. He also grabbed this huge defensive rebound in the final minutes.

Barret Benson - INC

4 points, 1 rebound, on 2/3 FG in 4 minutes

Benson was extremely effective in his limited minutes, so it’s interesting that he didn’t play more. Benson didn’t even see the floor in the last game against Illinois, so maybe Collins will want to give the freshman some action against Maverick Morgan in Tuesday’s rematch.