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Northwestern’s big four shines in 77-69 victory over Minnesota

The Wildcats have won two in a row!

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time this season, Northwestern has a Big Ten winning streak.

Behind a stat sheet-stuffing performance from Vic Law and a strong second half from the other members of the big four, the Wildcats (13-9, 4-5 Big Ten) pulled out a road win over Minnesota, 77-69, on Tuesday night.

Law had 18 points and also tallied 13 rebounds and 5 assists. Bryant McIntosh chipped in 18 for NU, and Lindsey added 15. Dererk Pardon played solid defense on Jordan Murphy, matching him blow-for-blow in the second half. Nate Mason balled out for the Gophers (14-9, 3-7), pouring in 25 points to lead all scorers.

Minnesota took a 40-34 lead into the break behind some hot shooting, but Northwestern got right back into it early in the second half. From there, it would be a back-and-forth affair for the rest of the night, with both squads trading buckets.

McIntosh and Lindsey, Northwestern’s senior guards, may have struggled with their shot at times this season, but they stepped up in a big way in the second half. B-Mac’s floater was money, and he blew past Mason for a pretty layup at one point. Meanwhile, Lindsey scored 11 of his 15 in the second half, including a lefty layup over Jordan Murphy to give NU a 7-point lead late in the game.

Amir Coffey, playing in his second game back since missing five games with a shoulder injury, hit a big three to cut the lead back to 70-66. But Aaron Falzon drew contact at the rim and made two free throws (he shot 8-for-9 at the line), and the Wildcats closed out the game at the line.

Early on, it was the Nate Mason show at Williams Arena. In Northwestern’s 83-60 win over Minnesota at Allstate on Jan. 10, Mason shot 2-for-10 from the field for just 9 points. Meanwhile, McIntosh made headlines with a superb 16-assist, 0-turnover performance.

Mason sure seemed like he remembered that game. The senior came out firing early on, scoring 11 points in the game’s first 12:35 and reaching 17 points and 6 assists at the half. He was getting whatever he wanted against Northwestern’s zone, doing his damage from deep and in the lane. Minnesota as a whole didn’t seem to struggle much with the zone, shooting 53 percent from the field and 60 percent from deep in the first half.

Northwestern, especially behind Law and McIntosh, played well on offense in the first half, but put up little resistance on the other end. Minnesota had plenty of open looks from three and scored several times off of breakaways after turnovers.

Chris Collins must’ve made some adjustments at the break, because the Wildcats looked much better on that end in the second half. They outscored Minnesota 43-29 in the final 20 minutes, protecting the rim well and continuing to execute on offense.

Northwestern will look to make it three in a row when it travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan next Monday.


Post-game quotes from Vic Law:

and Bryant McIntosh: