The Northwestern Wildcats came into their matchup Thursday against Nebraska with a 16-4 record, which is their best start through twenty games in school history. Their 16th victory came against Ohio State in Columbus, winning there for the first time in forty years. The Wildcats definitely carried that momentum over from Sunday, as they defeated the Cornhuskers 73-61 for their first five-game Big Ten win streak since 1965.
“I am proud of our guys,” said coach Chris Collins. “The guys were motivated to win five consecutive league games. We want to continue to do things that have not been done here or not done here in a very long time.”
The Wildcats opened the game with a quick 10-4 lead in which they shot 80% during that stretch. However, Nebraska eventually followed suit and went on a 10-4 run, then scored a pair of free throws to take a 16-14 lead midway through the first half. Then both teams exchanged baskets down the stretch, but the Wildcats managed to go into the locker room with a narrow 32-29 lead.
During the second half the Wildcats elevated their play, with a boost of energy from sophomore Vic Law, who threw down a few vicious dunks as he led the Wildcats on a 16-1 run late, finishing with fourteen second half points, for a team high twenty points.
However, the star of the night who has been a nightmare for the Huskers throughout his career, was Dererk Pardon. Pardon finished the game with 19 points and a personal best 22 rebounds, in what fueled the Wildcats to out-rebounding Nebraska 43-41. The Cornhuskers had no answer for Pardon who took advantage of mismatches all game long.
If it wasn’t the MVP chants that got him going, it may just have been the fact Nebraska wears red, as Coach Collins and Coach Miles both jokingly stated in their post-game pressers. Those comments were made due to Pardon scoring a career high 28 points against Nebraska last year, and scoring thirteen points and corralling five rebounds against them earlier this year in Lincoln, for the Cats’ first conference win.
When asked what it was about Nebraska as to why he has been so dominate against them, he smiled and stated: “I have no clue. Just a coincidence.”
Defensively for the Wildcats they continue to shine as they matched their season average of six blocks a game, which is second best in the Big Ten and seventh nationally. They also held Nebraska to 36.5% shooting from the field, which is impressive considering Nebraska shoots roughly 42% from the field this season.
The Wildcats are limiting their opponents to 38.7% shooting from the field which is good for 13th best in the nation.
While Scottie Lindsey’s streak of double-digit scoring came to an end with five points after dealing with back spasms following the victory in Columbus, Nebraska’s Tai Webster continued his double-digit scoring, finishing with a game high 23 points. Webster is now the only player in the conference to have scored in double-figures every game for their respective team.
Looking ahead Northwestern will welcome the Indiana Hoosiers to town for a sold-out match-up on Sunday, January 29th.