By Drew Miller
In a battle of the basement dwellers in the Big Ten, Northwestern traveled to Lincoln and topped the Cornhuskers 81-76 in an overtime thriller. This game lived up to the hype (not in a good way), with 41 turnovers and 38 fouls between the two teams. A back and forth game of small runs, Northwestern had a chance to win at the end, but Pat Spencer failed to convert a jumper as time expired. Overtime was a similar story, with a 7-0 run to start the period that decided the game. All in all, a win’s a win for Northwestern, as the ‘Cats end a 12-game losing streak and Nebraska extends its losing streak to 14.
Ryan Young: D+
I hate to be this critical of a starter who played 29 minutes in a win; however, Northwestern won in spite of Young’s performance, not because of it. Young looked uncomfortable in the post all game, traveling often and struggling to pass effectively out of double teams. As the biggest player on the court against an undersized Nebraska team, Young failed to take advantage of his size. He finished the game with 10 points, five rebounds, and an astonishing seven turnovers. Seven turnovers from a seldom-used big man leads to the D+ rating. His only saving grace was going four for four at the line, including two in overtime to ice the game.
Miller Kopp: A
Kopp was the star of today’s game, playing a team-high 40 minutes and scoring 21 on 8-14 shooting. Kopp was a consistent presence throughout the game and hitting buckets when the team needed it the most. His most important bucket, a three to start overtime, led to a 7-0 run and a Wildcat victory. Kopp’s growth as a scorer over the course of the year is a welcome sight.
Boo Buie: B+
After the first half, it seemed impossible Buie would earn a B+ for his performance. However, his second half and overtime performance was key to the victory. Buie’s performance has been up and down all season; his consistency is the key to future success. Buie ended the game with 15 points and an impressive seven assists. In a sloppy game from both sides, his three turnovers didn’t kill the team.
Similar to Northwestern, Nebraska came into the game today losing 13 in a row. And after today, that tally has increased to 14. With a road game against Michigan and a road game against Minnesota coming up, they will likely end the season on 16 straight losses. Nebraska receives the D as they utterly choked this game away–Nebraska had 21 turnovers and somehow shot 8-30 from the free throw line. In a game at home that went to overtime, missing 22 free throws is unacceptable. Going back to the 2010-2011 season, the 26.7% free throw shooting is the fifth-worst of any college team with at least 20 attempts in a game. How does a home team shoot 26.7% from the line?