It’s not a fluke.
After winning its first game against a top-five opponent since 1979, Northwestern (5-1, 2-0 B1G) brought its confident style of play to Bloomington and defeated the Hoosiers (5-3, 0-1 B1G) 74-67 at Assembly Hall for the first time since 2014. Most impressively, the ‘Cats once again found a way to thwart their second-half demons, beating a solid opponent while maintaining a lead for the second consecutive game.
Chase Audige led the Wildcats with 17 points, all of which came in the second half. Miller Kopp and Ryan Young added 13 points each. Boo Buie also chipped in with 11 points including three three-pointers and four assists, and Pete Nance scored nine crucial points despite spending most of the game in foul trouble.
After a relatively quiet past few games, Kopp drained two three-pointers to start the Wildcats off and give his team the early 6-5 lead four minutes in. Northwestern’s second unit began to take over, led by Young, Ty Berry and Ryan Greer, and surged ahead to give the ‘Cats an 18-12 lead at the under-12 timeout.
A scary sight soon followed, as Robbie Beran landed awkwardly on his right foot during a fast break layup attempt and did not return to the game. However, the ‘Cats responded admirably to the loss of their starter and went on a 17-3 run over a five-minute period to take a 29-15 lead deep in the half.
The Wildcats continued to gain momentum in an empty Assembly Hall with their largest lead reaching 15 points in the first half. However, the Hoosiers eventually got things together and trimmed NU’s lead to as little as seven points before a late Anthony Gaines bucket gave Northwestern a 37-28 advantage entering the break.
Indiana opened the second half strong, scoring eight unanswered points to cut the NU lead to one and forced a timeout from Chris Collins. Buie hit a much-needed three to end the run, but the Hoosiers’ offense continued to roll as the second half progressed.
With Northwestern’s offense struggling to score (largely due to Nance spending some time on the bench with three fouls), the Wildcats’ lead evaporated, as Indiana went on another 8-0 run to claim a 50-47 lead for the Hoosiers midway through the half.
Just as Archie Miller’s squad started to run away with it, Nance knocked down an and-one to tie the game at 50, and Audige later spurred a 12-0 Northwestern run that gave the ‘Cats a 62-54 lead with six minutes remaining.
Alas, a fourth foul for Nance sent him to the bench, and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis immediately responded, leading the Hoosiers as they cut Northwestern’s lead to four with just three minutes remaining.
Once the Hoosiers cut the ‘Cats lead to two, Audige responded with two huge shots, which ultimately cemented Northwestern’s second consecutive Big Ten win and allowed the Wildcats to advance to 2-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 2005.
Jackson-Davis led the Hoosiers with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Armaan Franklin scored 16.
Northwestern looks to keep rolling in a matchup against No. 23 Ohio State (7-1) on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. CT.