Jan. 29, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- Drew Crawford was sensational as he poured in a season-high 30 points and Northwestern held No. 14/13 Wisconsin to just 26.3 percent from the field as the Wildcats took down the Badgers, 65-56, at the Kohl Center Wednesday night.
Northwestern pulled off a feat that few others have been able to accomplish against Wisconsin. The Wildcats posted only the 20th victory by a visiting team in the Kohl Center in 13 seasons under UW head coach Bo Ryan.
Although Crawford absorbed much of the spotlight and praise for his stellar night in the sea of red, it was undoubtedly a team effort in the victory.
Sharpshooter Tre Demps lived up to his name, hitting a huge three-pointer in the middle of the second half that kickstarted Northwestern's offensive push.
Both Alex Olah and Sanjay Lumpkin played much of the second half with four fouls, but managed to contribute nevertheless. Olah grabbed three rebounds, including a big defensive board at the end of the game, and Lumpkin pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds in the victory.
Northwestern went without a bucket for the first four minutes of the game while Wisconsin built a six-point lead. But soon enough, NU made up those six points and more, taking a 10-9 lead on a Crawford layup just after the midway point of the first half.
The 'Cats struggled to hit jumpers in the first half but kept the game close by grabbing 18 rebounds and they trailed by only one, 23-22, after the first 20 minutes.
At the beginning of second half, Wisconsin made an offensive run and threatened to pull away. The Badgers built a 30-24 lead after four minutes, but Northwestern took a time out to regroup and stemmed the tide, immediately cutting the lead in half on a JerShon Cobb three-point jumper.
Four minutes later, Demps hit the aforementioned jumper that kicked off an remarkable offensive run for the Wildcats. Cobb and Demps hit consecutive three-pointers to put NU up 42-35, while the Badgers appeared rattled by NU's methodical pace and took a timeout.
But the stoppage didn't work for Wisconsin like it did for NU. Over the next six minutes, the Cats built the lead to a game-high 15 points, thanks in large part to nine tallies from Crawford.
Down by 15 with just over three minutes left, Wisconsin turned to a full-court press and gained a bit of momentum back. The Badgers cut the lead to six with under a minute left.
With the game hanging in the balance, Olah, grabbed the defensive rebound after Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes missed a free throw with 46 seconds left. The Badgers soon fouled and Crawford nailed both shots from the charity stripe
On the next possession, the vaunted NU defense forced a turnover of its own that turned out to be the nail in the coffin of another memorable win for first-year head coach Chris Collins and the 'Cats.
NU's defense in its four Big Ten wins this season has been nothing short of stifling. In those victories (Illinois, Indiana, Purdue and Wisconsin), Northwestern has held the opponent to a paltry 51.5 points per game. Furthermore, the Wildcats are allowing foes to shoot just 26.8 percent (64-239). The 'Cats have also controlled the defensive glass in those four ballgames, out-rebounding the opposition, 135-111.
For Crawford, the Big Ten's active leading scorer, Wednesday marked the third time in his storied career that he scored 30 points or more. He dumped in 34 points for NU against Creighton on Dec. 22, 2011 and scored a career-high 35 versus North Carolina A&T as a freshman on Dec. 13, 2009. The Naperville, Ill., native is currently fourth on Northwestern's all-time scoring list, 46 points shy of Evan Eschmeyer (1995-99).
Next up, Northwestern will head to Minneapolis, Minn., to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 1 p.m. CT. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network and AM 720 WGN Radio.
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