EVANSTON-It was a forgettable performance by Northwestern, but the Wildcats survived with a 63-61 win over IUPUI thanks to a runner from JerShon Cobb with two seconds remaining.
Here are our rapid reactions:
Did you see that? Drew Crawford's steal and jam. At this point, it's looking like Crawford will fill this section for the majority of games. On the first possession of the second half, he slapped the ball away from IUPUI's Donovan Gibbs and dove on it. As Northwestern went down the other way, he collected a pass on the wing, gave a quick shot fake and blew by his defender into a wide-open lane for a powerful two-handed jam. It gave him his first two points of the game, and ignited him to a 12-point second half performance.
Offensive player of the game: Drew Crawford. After his scoreless first half, Crawford responded nicely, finishing with 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting. His put-back dunk with just over a minute-and-a-half remaining was the most notable, but he was very active in getting to the bucket throughout the second half. It was his first game this season without a three-pointer, but he managed to reach double digits by going one-on-one more than usual.
Defensive player of the game: Drew Crawford. He was the best player from an overall subpar defensive effort. It couldn't be Alex Olah, who gave up 18 points to Jaguars center Mitch Patton. It could have been Sanjay Lumpkin, but he had to sit out most of the second half with foul trouble. Crawford generally did a solid job of staying in front of drivers, and he crashed the boards hard, grabbing 10 rebounds overall, five of which were offensive.
Super sub: Kale Abrahamson. Coach Chris Collins has given Abrahamson the playing time he asked for, and the sophomore has responded. With Northwestern down 21-10 and struggling to find a rhythm on offense, he stepped in and immediately knocked down a corner three. Shortly after, he penetrated the lane, put a spin move on his defender and hit a one-handed floater while drawing a foul. The free throw was his last made shot of the game, but those two plays were crucial to the Wildcats staying in the game.
Turning point: JerShon Cobb's game-winner. Olah got lost on defense and fouled Patton, who tied the game up with two free throws and forced a Northwestern timeout with 16 seconds remaining. The Cats let the clock run down, and Cobb drove into the lane from the left wing and put up a floater from about 15 feet that softly bounced off the front and back of the rim before falling in. The Jaguars got a shot off from just inside half court, but it went wide left.
Atmosphere: It was an underwhelming showing from students and fans. You'd expect more than 20 fans just prior to tipoff on a Friday night, but that's just what we saw. The general excuse was the plethora of formals and date nights on campus. The student sections progressively filled up as the game went on, but there was still enough room to upgrade elementary school kids from the upper deck. As for the rest of the seats, they looked about 60-percent full.