If Northwestern’s win over the Texas Longhorns in the Legends Classic last week had happened a year ago, it might not have drawn so much attention. It would be looked at as an apparition, especially after following it up with a tough late-game loss to Notre Dame. But this is not last year’s Northwestern team.
“The guys in our locker room believe we should be 6-0 …,” head coach Chris Collins said after their 86-66 home win over the Bryant Bulldogs on Friday. “I want to keep building on what we’re doing. Our spirit is really good, guys are playing with enthusiasm, the emotion’s good, we’re sharing the ball.”
Not exactly the words you’d expect from a team that is instead 4-2 after not being able to close out two winnable games that would have been sure resume builders for the program.
“This isn’t the old Northwestern who is just out here ready to compete or trying to be close,” said Vic Law, who led the Wildcats with 22 points. “We’re winning games and that’s it.”
In their return home against Bryant, Northwestern jumped out to a 21 point first-half lead, and went into halftime up 15. But the Bulldogs came out in the second half strong with an 8-0 run and cut Northwestern’s lead to as little as three behind the hot shooting of Nisre Zouzoua, who finished the game with 24 points.
Northwestern answered with a 13-2 run of their own midway through the half to put the game out of reach for good. Law and Lindsey were too much for Bryant, combining for half of the Wildcats’ points in the second half.
Collins said after the game that this is the most talented team he’s had offensively, that with Bryant McIntosh shooting 20 percent from the field over the last two games, he’d never have thought they’d still be competitive and even winning. But with Law returning and the emergence of Scottie Lindsey and Gavin Skelly, who scored 20 and 15 respectively in Friday’s win, the pieces are really fitting together.
“As a staff these were the guys we envisioned when we recruited them,” said Collins. “So it’s fun to see their development paying off.”