February marked more of the depressing same for Northwestern, but also a bit of new for the struggling squad. The men’s basketball team suffered through a gauntlet of a schedule before securing their first win in 13 games at the end of the month. Let’s look back at the final full month of the regular season and see what exactly happened to the Wildcats in February:
At Purdue (75-70 L)
Northwestern continued their losing ways with a defeat in Mackey Arena to kick-off the February slate. While the score reads close, the Boilermakers controlled the game throughout thanks to their impressive mark of 23-for-24 from the free throw line. Pete Nance played one of his best offensive games of the year against a limited Trevion Williams, dropping 20 points and eight rebounds on 66% shooting from the field. The rest of the Wildcats struggled to find their offensive rhythm, shooting a combined 38% from the field in their dismal performance.
Indiana (79-76 2OT L)
This game was a heartbreaker. Every time the ‘Cats went ahead or seemed to put it away, a clutch three by Armaan Franklin or Al Durham brought the Hoosiers back. Northwestern truly gave the game away, as up by two with almost no time left, Durham nailed a jumper to send the game to a second overtime. Northwestern jumped to a two-point lead in the second overtime before the Hoosiers eventually ran away with it in to complete the vintage post-2017 Northwestern men’s basketball collapse.
At Rutgers (64-50 L)
Three days removed from the most brutal loss of their season, the Wildcats traveled to New Jersey to play the Scarlet Knights and the trip did not go too well. The game never seemed to be in Northwestern’s reach, as Rutgers jumped out to a 10-point lead at half, and they only built upon that edge from there. Jacob Young and Ron Harper Jr. paced Rutgers, scoring 15 points and 14 points respectively. Northwestern received steady scoring throughout the starting lineup, but only Chase Audige and Anthony Gaines reached double digits.
At Illinois (73-66 L)
In the battle for Illinois’ Big Ten team (lol), Ayo Dosunmu and Co. came away with a seven-point victory against the long struggling Wildcats. While Illinois ended the first half with a 12-point lead, Northwestern made the game competitive and fought the entire second half to make the contest close. NU seemed like they were in it up until the very end, but after an underwhelming game, Dosumnu took over and hit several clutch shots to end Northwestern’s chances of stealing a win on the road. Chase Audige scored 21 points for the Wildcats, but the story of the game was Northwestern’s atrocious three-point shooting, hitting only 24% of their attempts from behind the arc.
Wisconsin (68-51 L)
After a demoralizing defeat to the Fighting Illini, Northwestern returned to Evanston to take on the somewhat steady Wisconsin Badgers. The game was never particularly close, as Wisconsin gained the lead with about five minutes left in the first half and never looked back. Boo Buie was the only Wildcat to score more than seven points, as he put up 19 on 8-for-15 from the field. Wisconsin received double digit scoring from five players as they cruised toward an easy dub.
At Minnesota (67-59 W)
After a grueling 13-game, 60-day drought, the team finally came out victorious on the hardwood. Against an injured Golden Gophers team without starting center Liam Robbins, Northwestern fought back from a early 17-3 deficit to claw its way to its first win in the calendar year of 2021. Boo Buie popped off, dropping 25 points thanks to a perfect 12-for-12 performance from the free throw line. He matched Minnesota’s Marcus Carr (21 points), allowing the Wildcats to storm away to an eight point victory despite the early struggles. Miller Kopp complemented Buie’s scoring by hitting both of his three point attempts on the way to 15 points from the Junior.
Having finally snapped their season-defining losing streak, the ‘Cats entered the final month of the season not exactly on a roll, but at least having stopped the skid.