Northwestern stays hot, upsets Indiana in Bloomington
By Logan Schiciano
Northwestern men’s basketball (11-3, 3-1 B1G) continued its strong start to the season with an inspiring road win over No. 15 Indiana (10-5, 1-3 B1G) on Sunday.
Battling back pain throughout much of the second half, Chase Audige recorded 19 points and a career-high six steals. The senior’s backcourt counterpart Boo Buie poured in 26 points and despite a late second-half push from Mike Woodson’s squad, Northwestern secured the 84-83 victory – its third straight win over the Hoosiers.
The ‘Cats raced out to a 34-17 lead behind lights-out shooting and brilliant all-around play from Audgie, who had seven points, seven assists and three steals in just the first half.
“I thought execution early in the game was really good,” Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins said. “We knew they were going to have a lot of energy, [but] we got downhill and got some layups, dunks and open threes.”
Indiana began to claw back midway through the first period, led by Trace Jackson-Davis, one of the top-scorers in the conference. The junior nearly had a triple-double in the first half, scoring 13 points, securing 10 rebounds and dishing out seven assists.
Playing without Race Thompson and Xavier Johnson – two of Indiana’s starters who were out due to injury – the Hoosiers seemed to be finally finding their rhythm with less than 10 seconds remaining in the half. But after Jackson-Davis converted a short shot in the paint, cutting the ‘Cats lead to five, Northwestern pushed the ball up the floor and Audige found a streaking Matt Nicolson who threw it down as time expired.
Northwestern headed to the locker room ahead 41-34 and carried the momentum from the Nicolson slam into the second half. The ‘Cats got early buckets from Robbie Beran and Buie to extend the lead to double digits. After two free throws from Buie, a layup from Audige gave Northwestern a 49-36 advantage at the media timeout.
Indiana didn’t go down quietly. Freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino made tough shot after tough shot, and his career-high 33 points kept the Hoosiers within striking distance. But sloppy play from Indiana made it difficult to sustain any offensive flow. The Hoosiers had 16 turnovers and committed 21 fouls, which allowed Northwestern to hold on in Bloomington.
While the ‘Cats did surrender a season-high 83 points, Collins said his team’s grit on the defensive end made the difference on Sunday.
“Our defense has carried us all year long,” Collins said. “They’re very difficult to guard because of what [Jackson Davis] can do. He’s not a prototypical low-post player, but I thought our ability to get 25 points off of turnovers was a huge stat in the game.”
With the win, Northwestern has defeated Indiana, Illinois and Michigan State in the same season for the first time since 1966-67. The ‘Cats are seeking their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016-17 and Collins said a big difference this year is his team’s ability to finish close games.
“We’ve taken a lot of flack throughout the years for not being able to close, but these guys deserve some praise for closing today,” he said. “It’s about the guys. That’s when you can have fun coaching a team. When you can spend all your time worrying about gameplanning. I’m not worried about my attitude. We have a lot of heart and a lot of fight.”
Northwestern is 3-1 in Big Ten play for just the third time in the last 55 seasons (2021, 1968) and has won back-to-back games in Bloomington for the first time since 1966-68.
The ‘Cats head home to face Rutgers on Wednesday in a matchup that Northwestern narrowly won in double-overtime last year. Perri Kitei and Adam Beck will be on the call for WNUR Sports with tipoff set for just after 8 p.m. CST.