EVANSTON, Ill. -- Senior forward Drew Crawford keyed a first-half onslaught as Northwestern rolled to a season-opening 79-49 win over Texas Southern Tuesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Crawford connected on each of his first eight field goal attempts in scoring all of his game-high 20 points before the break.
NU set the tone off the opening tip as Crawford scored off a feed from Alex Olah. The Naperville, Ill., native was just getting started as he scored the Wildcats first six points. Jared Swopshire also connected on a pair of early baskets to help Northwestern surge out to a 13-4 lead seven minutes into the contest.
The advantage was 13-7 when the Wildcats' defense took over, holding the Tigers scoreless over a span of five minutes and 24 seconds while Northwestern rattled off nine straight points to extend the advantage to 15.
In all, the 'Cats went on a 27-2 run over a stretch of nine-plus minutes as Olah capped the surge with a slam to make it 40-9 with 3:43 left in the opening half. Crawford couldn't miss as he drilled each of his first eight tries, including four from 3-point range.
Northwestern took a 43-14 lead into the intermission as it limited Texas Southern to 6-of-29 shooting (20.7 percent) in the first half while the 'Cats connected on 16 of 27 field goal attempts (59.3 percent).
The 14 points were the fewest allowed by NU in a half since UC Riverside scored 14 in the first half on Dec. 1, 2008.
The Wildcats were able to cruise throughout the second half. Freshman Kale Abrahamson picked up where Crawford left off, tallying 15 second-half points and hitting three 3-pointers.
Northwestern's lead reached as many as 37 points when Olah stepped outside to hit a triple and then scored in the paint, giving the hosts a 68-31 lead with 8:23 left. The freshman posted seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots in his debut.
Dave Sobolewski dished out a career-high nine assists in the contest with Northwestern helping on 24 of its 29 field goals in the contest. Swopshire contributed nine points and eight boards in his first game as a Wildcat and Reggie Hearn chipped in with nine points and seven rebounds.
Texas Southern was limited to 29.3 percent shooting in the contest, compared to 50 percent for the Wildcats.
Northwestern returns to action at 7 p.m. Thursday as it hosts Mississippi Valley State. For tickets, visit NUsports.com or call 888-GO-PURPLE.