EVANSTON-Northwestern rolled to an easy 86-64 win against overmatched Mississippi Valley State on Monday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena, but it wasn't a very impressive 22-point win.
The Wildcat looked much more polished offensively than they did in their last outing against Western Michigan, but it was unclear how much of that could be attributed to a MVSU defense that could most charitably be described as suspect.
Here are our rapid reactions:
Did you see that? A rather sleepy game got a jolt of adrenaline at the end of the first half, with two three-pointers in the space of five seconds. Drew Crawford stroked a deep one from the foul line-extended to give NU a 13-point lead, but Delta Devil DeAngelo Priar took the inbound pass and launched a three-quarter court heave that went in at the buzzer to make it 44-34 heading into the locker room.
Offensive player of the game: Drew Crawford. As much as we wanted to give it to Alex Olah, who wound up with 18 points, we have to acknowledge Crawford's smooth 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He added a team-high five assists and 10 rebounds, sharing top honors in that category. Crawford could pretty much do what he wanted out there, and the Wildcats leaned on him, whether he was posting up or catching and shooting.
Defensive player of the game: Sanjay Lumpkin. Northwestern's defensive effort was not one that coach Chris Collins would put in an instructional video, but Lumpkin did a little bit of everything for the Wildcats. He wound up with a team-high two steals and shared the team lead with 10 rebounds while scoring 13 points.
Super sub: Tre Demps. Demps came off the bench to pour in 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. Demps had a three-point play at 11:39 of second half and even hit one off the glass as the shot clock went off down the stretch. He may not have started, but Demps earned 28 minutes of playing time and gave the Wildcats a much-needed offensive boost.
Turning point: When Northwestern started hitting its free throws in the second half. The Wildcats were never really threatened in this one, but they couldn't pull away, either. The lead was fluctuating between 10 and 14 points when the Wildcats started hitting their free throws to build the lead up to 20 late in the second half. The drained 12 in a row at one point and finished 18-of-25 from the charity stripe in the second half and 23-of-31 overall (74.2 percent).
Xs and Os: With JerShon Cobb out with an ankle injury, Northwestern gave Dave Sobolewski the start alongside of James Montgomery III in the backcourt. Sobolewski played 29 minutes but continued to struggle offensively, going 0-for-4 from the floor and scoring just four points. At forward, Kale Abrahamson got only seven minutes as Collins went with Nate Taphorn, who played 21 minutes.