Monday, January 20, 2014

Wildcats Have Momentum Heading into Game with Purdue

Early on this year, really up until a week ago I didn't think Northwestern would have any momentum this season. It just didn't seem like this team would be able to put together enough consecutive success to establish that positive feeling. That changed in the last week. Northwestern went 2-1 in the week, but the only loss was to a top-5 team in Michigan State. Northwestern best #23 Illinois and defending Big Ten champ Indiana in the games that surrounded the loss to MSU. Even in that loss the Cats played great defense and showed their new style of play which focuses on defense will allow them to compete with the conference's best teams. The Wildcats still don't score the ball real well, but fans had to be impressed with the returned assertiveness of Drew Crawford who got to the basketball for a bunch of inside points vs Indiana and the clutch shooting of Tre Demps who really closed the door on comeback hopes for both Illinois and Indiana in the final minutes.

Now Northwestern will face a Purdue team who comes into the game with similar positive momentum. The Boilermakers have defeated Illinois and Penn State in the last week and like NU have quieted some of their doubters with their solid play. AJ Hammons leads the Boilermakers from his center position. He's a legit big man and his matchup with NU's Alex Olah is one to watch for sure. Purdue also has a collection of guards who will try to drive and get to the hoop. Northwestern played amazing defense in preventing Indiana's Yogi Farrell from getting to the basket regularly. A similar defensive effort will got a long way to helping NU win the game. The other thing NU needs is offensive production. The Wildcats got double-figure points from both Demps and Crawford in the wins over Illinois and Indiana. That's necessary for NU to have a chance. Also watch Olah and Kale Abrahamson who have had solid scoring games of late. Finally, I've been very impressed with the way JerShon Cobb has taken over the point guard position from the injured Dave Sobolewski. He will be tested by Purdue's defense but if he passes the test it'll be huge for Northwestern's odds of winning.

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