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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern’s shooting struggles lead to 68-51 defeat to Michigan

The ‘Cats lose their second straight on a nightmarish offensive night.

Michigan v Northwestern Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Northwestern Wildcats (15-7, 6-5 B1G) suffered their second consecutive loss at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines (12-10, 6-5 BIG) to finish off a stretch of five games in 11 days.

Kobe Bufkin led the way for the Wolverines with 15 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, while Hunter Dickinson led Michigan with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting. On a rough shooting night in which the ‘Cats shot just 3-of-19 from three-point land, Boo Buie led Northwestern with 23 points. After missing all nine of his shots in the first half, Chase Audige ended up with 10 points.

The Wolverines won the opening tip, but the first score went to Northwestern, after Audige stole a pass from Bufkin and knocked down one of two free throws after getting fouled on the fastbreak.

Excluding Audige’s trip to the line, it was a slow start offensively for both teams. The Wolverines and Wildcats combined to miss the first nine shots of the game from the field over the course of the first two and a half minutes, before Jett Howard and Buie traded threes. Bufkin knocked down a three from the corner to make it three straight threes combined, and gave Michigan a 6-4 lead prior to the first media timeout.

Out of the stoppage, Matthew Nicholson knocked down a turnaround jumper from just outside the paint to tie the game at six. Brooks Barnhizer took a charge to keep the momentum going for Northwestern, and Julian Roper II gave the ‘Cats an 8-6 lead with a contested layup — his first points back since he suffered an injury against Wisconsin on Jan. 23. Hunter Dickinson equalized with a hook shot and then gave the Wolverines a 10-8 lead with a dunk.

Buie hit a three with a behind-the-back assist from Ty Berry to put Northwestern back into the lead briefly, but Joey Baker quickly answered with a three of his own. Barnhizer equalized with a layup, but Tarris Reed Jr. knocked down two free throws at the other end to give Michigan a 15-13 lead. Michigan had a golden opportunity to pad its lead as Jace Howard was fouled while shooting a three, but he only knocked down one of three from the line. Nicholson missed two free throws on the other end, and a Baker layup gave Michigan an 18-13 lead at the third media timeout.

Buie knocked down another three out of the under-eight to cut the lead to two, and a foul put Robbie Beran at the line for a one-and-one, where he knocked down both free throws to tie the game at 18. Bufkin stopped a three minute scoring drought for Michigan with a mid-range jumper, and Dug McDaniel’s floater put Michigan up 22-18, forcing Chris Collins to call a timeout.

Buie got a layup to fall, and after a few minutes without scoring from either team, Nicholson dunked it home to tie the game at 22. Dickinson got fouled and knocked down both free throws to give Michigan a two-point lead, but Audige responded on the other end with one free throw of his own to cut the lead back down to one. Dickinson made a layup on Michigan’s final full possession of the half, but Barnhizer got another jumper to go to cut the Wolverines’ lead down to 26-25 at halftime.

Audige started the scoring in the second half to give Northwestern the lead, and his steal led to a Berry layup on a fastbreak to give Northwestern its largest lead of the game at 29-26. Dickinson knocked down two free throws, and then a layup a few possessions later to give the Wolverines a 30-29 lead. Bufkin extended the lead to 32-29 with a layup, and Baker converted a four-point play to give Michigan a 36-29 lead four minutes into the second half.

Baker knocked down a jumper to cap off a 12-0 run for Michigan. Buie stopped the run with a layup, but Dickinson finished a dunk through the contact of a foul and got the free throw to fall to give Michigan its first double-digit lead of the game at 41-31. Terrance Williams II knocked down a three on the following possession to put Michigan ahead by 13 and force Northwestern to call a timeout.

Buie got a layup to fall to stop the Michigan run, but only momentarily as Williams II knocked down a layup of his own to bring the lead back up to 13. Bufkin extended the edge with a layup to make it 48-33.

Audige cut the lead down to 13, but Baker hit a three from the corner to give Michigan a 16-point lead — the largest of the night. The lead remained at 16 points with seven-and-a half minutes left.

Michigan and Northwestern traded buckets for the next four minutes, and the Wolverines held a 60-45 lead at the final media timeout. The Wolverines and Wildcats played even for the final four minutes, and a Bufkin steal led to a Dickinson lob to seal a 17-point win for Michigan.

Northwestern will look to bounce back against the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison at 5:30 p.m. CST on Sunday. You can watch the action on Big Ten Network.