EVANSTON-The first half of Northwestern's 79-49 demolition of Texas Southern belonged to senior Drew Crawford. The second, however, was was owned by freshman sharpshooter Kale Abrahamson.
Crawford, as expected, was a man among boys in the first 20 minutes, scoring 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting. But very few people would have guessed that Abrahamson, the 6-foot-7 small forward from West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley, would steal the show in the second half. He scored 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting over the final 20 minutes.
With Sanjay Lumpkin sidelined with mononucleosis, Northwestern coach Bill Carmody gave Abrahamson 23 minutes of playing time, and the rookie responded, slashing to the basket, hitting 3-of-4 3-pointers and pulling down four rebounds.
"He can make shots," said Carmody. "He gives you a little different dimension out there, and he's fast. He's going to make shots and they're going to guard him, and he's going to get a lot of layups."
Abrahamson botched his first layup opportunity in the second half. He got the ball on the wing and recklessly drove to the middle of the key, where, with nowhere to go, Texas Southern's Kyrie Sutton stripped him of the ball.
After that mishap, however, Abrahamson -- whom Carmody described as "excitable" -- settled into a rhythm.
At one point, Abrahamson scored 10 straight Northwestern points. He hit two free throws and a layup, and then made two straight 3s from the wing, where he flashed a quick, somewhat unconventional release reminiscent of -- dare we say it -- former NU star John Shurna.
Abrahamson, who got one triple off so quickly the defender didn't even have time to react to his getting the ball, says he's heard those comparisons before. And while he's honored to be mentioned in the same breath with a player he called "a legend," he's not too fond of it.
"I try to stay away from comparisons like that at this point," said the 18-year-old who also has a baby face like Shurna's. "Those are some pretty big shoes to fill."
Besides, he doesn't think he's that much like the all-time Northwestern scoring leader.
"They say my shot looks like (his)," he said. "I tend to disagree."
He knows that it doesn't matter if his shot looks the same going up. If it goes down as often as Shurna's did, he'll be in good shape.
Hot start: Crawford hit his first eight shots from the floor, including 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. The senior didn't miss a shot until clanging a 3-pointer off the rim with just 3:57 remaining in the first half. "He does it every day in practice, so it was good to see him do it in a game," said Jared Swopshire, who finished with nine points, eight rebounds and two assists of his own.
Olah does it all: Freshman center Alex Olah did a little bit of everything in his college debut, scoring seven points, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking four shots in 23 minutes. He had a dunk off a fast break and even swished a three-pointer. Carmody, though, could do without the shooting from beyond the arc, turning away in disgust as the 7-footer let the shot fly. "I don't want to get too used to it," Carmody joked. "He's 7-feet and 275 [pounds]. I've had enough of those guys in my coaching career that like it outside, they like space."
Cerina out: Forward Nikola Cerina missed Tuesday night's game for personal reasons, said an NU spokesman. He is expected to be back for Thursday night's contest against Mississippi Valley State.