The ‘Cats were on fire in the Valley of the Sun.
Northwestern (9-2, 1-0 B1G) rode a hot-shooting first half to take down Arizona State (6-5, 0-0 PAC-12) 65-46 in Phoenix.
Boo Buie led the charge for NU, as he notched 22 points and seven rebounds. Brooks Barnhizer also added 16 on 7-for-13 shooting, and Ty Berry was productive with 12 points and 10 rebounds. For the Sun Devils, Frankie Collins scored a team-high 10 points, but the Sun Devils shot just 31% from the field.
The ‘Cats won the tip, but Barnhizer couldn’t capitalize on a midrange jumper to start the action. For the Sun Devils, Jamiya Neal made a layup for the game’s first points. On the other end, Buie found Barnhizer for a three to put NU up 3-2.
Three minutes in, Matthew Nicholson was hacked on an attempt at the rim. He missed both free throws, but Berry hit a stepback midrange shot to make NU’s lead 6-2.
After the under-16 timeout, Collins finished through contact for a tough layup for the Sun Devils to make it 6-4. On the other end, Buie jetted down the floor for an effortless shot at the rim to put NU up by four. With 13 minutes to go, Berry smoked a lay-in, but Buie hit a three on the next possession, giving the ‘Cats an 11-4 lead.
Following a 7-0 run by Northwestern, Neal hit a three from the left wing for Arizona State to make it 13-7. Soon afterward, Berry stepped into a confident deep shot of his own to put the ‘Cats up 18-7 and prompt ASU head coach Bobby Hurley to call a timeout.
Right on cue, Brycen Long made a corner three to cut NU’s lead to eight. After a Nick Martinelli miss, Nicholson picked up his second foul away from the ball. With eight minutes remaining, Bryant Selebangue drew contact at the rim but missed both shots at the charity stripe.
For the ‘Cats, Barnhizer made a bunny at the rim off a beautiful entry pass from Ryan Langborg to put them up 20-10. On the next possession, Barnhizer hit another midrange shot to give him nine on the night. After a three from Berry, the ‘Cats were suddenly up 25-10.
With six minutes left, Selebangue made an easy layup to end Arizona State’s drought. Nonetheless, Luke Hunger responded with a second-chance shot at the rim to make it 27-12. Several minutes later, Buie sunk a straight-away three to put NU up 30-12.
Following the under-4 timeout, Hunger airballed a long-range attempt; he atoned for his miss with a layup on the next possession to make it 32-12. After a miss by Collins, Barnhizer backed down his defender before hitting a silky jumper in the paint. His make punctuated a 16-2 run for the ‘Cats.
With 39 seconds to go, Adam Miller hit a pair of free throws to give the Sun Devils their first points in over six minutes. For the ‘Cats, Barnhizer finished a second-chance layup to put them up 36-13 entering the intermission.
At halftime, NU made over half of its field goals and more than 40% of its three-pointers. The Sun Devils converted just five shots in the first 20 minutes of action, shooting a ghastly 19.2% from the field. Barnhizer’s scoring output matched Arizona State’s entire team, as he notched 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Entering the second half, Miller put the Sun Devils on the board first with a corner three to make it 36-16. On the other end, Berry found Nicholson for a quick lay-in at the rim. Soon after, Buie hit a three from the right wing to put NU up 41-18.
For the Sun Devils, Akil Watson finished over Langborg and hit a free throw for a three-point play. The ‘Cats couldn’t respond as Arizona State forced a shot-clock violation before the under-16 timeout.
After the break, Miller hit two free throws to cut NU’s lead to 41-23. With 14 minutes left, Langborg canned a three to put the ‘Cats up 44-25. On the other end, Jose Perez drew a foul on Hunger and hit one of two shots from the charity stripe.
With 12 minutes to go, Perez got to the line following another aggressive drive to the rim. He made both free throws to make it 44-28. For the ‘Cats, Buie fired back with his fourth three of the night, inflating the lead to 19. On the next possession, Martinelli hit an easy layup to make it 49-28.
Following the media timeout, Collins stole an inbounds pass from Buie for a quick finish at the rim. Buie made up for his error with a layup of his own, putting the ‘Cats up 51-30. With nine minutes remaining, Martinelli hit a spinning paint shot and Berry sank a three on consecutive possessions for five quick points.
For the Sun Devils, Perez drew yet another foul and hit one free throw to make it 56-37. With 7:30 to go, Collins found Selebangue for a quick layup to cut NU’s lead to 17. A minute later, Barnhizer drew a foul at the rim but only made his second shot at the charity stripe, making it 57-39.
With 5:18 remaining, Buie glided to the rim for a layup off the glass to put the ‘Cats up 59-40. Soon after, he hurled a wild shot over his right shoulder for another make, giving him 20 on the night.
After the under-4 timeout, Watson slammed a two-handed dunk down to make it 61-44. On the other end, Barnhizer made a double-clutch layup but couldn’t convert the and-one. Buie hit two more free throws to put the ‘Cats up 65-46, and the purple-and-white held the ball through the final buzzer.
Northwestern returns to Welsh-Ryan Arena on Dec. 29 for a clash against Jackson State. The game will be broadcast on Peacock at 7 p.m. CT.