By: Chris Kwiecinski
It’s not everyday a Division I basketball team wins a basketball game by 65 points. Sure, Chicago State had only two wins, and Northwestern was easily the more talented team, but a lot of things needed to go right, and stay right, for Northwestern to win 96-31 Monday night in Rosemont.
Chris Collins’ squad was read from the get-go, as the Wildcats scored 55 first-half points and effectively ran the Cougars out of Allstate Arena. Here are three things we took away from Northwestern’s win.
The ‘Cats have hit the reset button
Throughout Northwestern’s demolition of Chicago, it was was pretty evident the ‘Cats were not going to let up. Even if they were up by 50 points or more. Beating down on Chicago State wasn’t just venting frustrations brought on by a rocky start to the season. It was also a way for Collins and the ‘Cats to right the ship.
Last season, Northwestern finished second in the Big Ten in scoring defense. Through 10 games this year, they rank eighth among Big Ten teams, allowing 70 or more points five times. After a week away from the court due to finals, it was clear the Wildcats have returned to the game focused.
“It was a good night to get back out and play coming off a really hectic stretch,” Collins said. “We had to get back to work. We had to regain our edge, we had to regain our spirit.”
Northwestern may have an emerging offensive threat in Aaron Falzon
In the first 10 minutes of Monday’s game, Northwestern got nine of its 26 points from forward Aaron Falzon, who nailed three 3-pointers. For a team that’s currently 12th among Big Ten teams in total offense, Falzon emergence would be significant for a team with Big Ten title aspirations that’s looking to get back on track.
Falzon finished with 15 points, and went 4-8 from the 3-point line, in a performance he personally needed.
“I’ve been in a little bit of a recent shooting slump, so it’s always good to see the ball go in a couple times,” Falzon said. “When it went in the first time, a lot of pressure came off me and I was ready to play basketball again.
If Monday was a confidence booster, the Wildcats better use it wisely
Beating up on an in-state, struggling program from the WAC was undoubtedly a breath of fresh air for Collins and the ‘Cats. But, things don’t get easier for the team the rest of December. The next two games on Northwestern’s schedule are Valparaiso, who boast an 8-2 record, and DePaul, winners of five straight. Furthermore, a date with 7-1 Oklahoma looms in Norman on Dec. 22.
Sure, games against Brown and Lewis University are sprinkled in between, but that’ll be a band-aid on a gaping wound should the ‘Cats lose more than one of the games against Oklahoma, Valpo or Depaul.
“I’ll live with the result if I feel like we’re fighting,” Collins said. “We’re playing the right way on both ends of the floor.”