Evanston, Ill. — In front of a sleepy Friday night Welsh-Ryan crowd, Northwestern (3-0) dominated the Binghamton Bearcats (1-3) 82-54.
Pregame, the arena was treated to a live taping of the popular talk show Pardon the Interruption, which has been running on ESPN since 2001. Tony Kornheiser, a Binghamton alum, and Mike Wilbon, a Northwestern alum, hosted their show at midcourt, with free entry proffered to the public. The two later stepped a bit out of their comfort zone, combining to do color commentary for the game on ESPNNews.
Coach Chris Collins switched the starting lineup a bit, putting A.J. Turner in for Jordan Ash. Ash, had played just four minutes against American despite beginning the game on the court.
The game was a blowout from the tip. The Cats started on a 7-0 run, and didn’t look back from there. They played great defense in the first half, holding Binghamton to just 19 points on 21.9 percent shooting.
Binghamton played mostly zone and went to a token 3⁄4 court zone press. While the press slowed down the otherwise fast-paced Wildcat offense for awhile, it didn’t end up disrupting much of anything. Northwestern moved the ball and attacked the zone well in the half court, scoring on many high-percentage looks.
The second half was 20 minutes of mostly garbage time, with the game well out of hand. Northwestern increased their lead to 41 at one point, before a meaningless late Binghamton run cut it back to the final 28 point deficit.
NU played very good defense throughout, which was reflected by the final score. Part of this success was the result of playing against an inferior opponent, but, regardless, they forced 17 turnovers and an overall tough shooting night out of Binghamton.
A.J. Turner paced the team at the half to the tune of 11 points. He showed how much of an offensive weapon he can be as he did a bit of everything. He showcased his three point shot and despite two turnovers, acquitted himself well as the primary ball handler for most of the night. He finished with just 13, with most of his offensive work coming when the game was still at least somewhat in question.
Vic Law added 14 points, staying steady in the scoring column, while pitching in with five rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.
In the frontcourt, Dererk Pardon was his usual steady self. He controlled the glass, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds. The highlight of the game came on a Pardon and-one dunk that originally took a high bounce off the back of the rim, but somehow found its way into the basket. Barret Benson played his best game of the year, posting a double-double on 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Pete Nance flashed his potential in the first half, scoring nine points after nailing his first four shots. He hit two long twos, a three, and finished a sweet dime from Turner.
Miller Kopp and Ryan Greer on the other hand, though each had their moments, looked timid and inexperienced for much of the game. Kopp, who finished with 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists, will need to start producing soon to justify his starting role.
All in all, it was a very balanced win for the Wildcats. They shot 51 percent from the field, played good team defense, and had five players in double figures. This win is promising, especially following a rather lethargic victory over American on Monday.
The Wildcats continue non-conference play when they take on Fresno State (1-1) to kick off the Wooden Legacy tournament on Thursday. The Bulldogs’ lone loss came by eight points to 21st-ranked TCU.