Good teams find ways to win.
And make no mistake about it, Northwestern is one of the Big Ten's best this season.
The Wildcats got almost nothing from leading scorer Scottie Lindsey on Thursday night, but sophomore big man Dererk Pardon put up jaw-dropping numbers in Northwestern's 73-61 win over Nebraska, scoring 19 points and grabbing 22 points.
Pardon's career night was the most impressive aspect of the win, but Vic Law also had a huge game, his fourth 20-plus-point outing of the season with 20 points and five rebounds for good measure.
It was actually a Law play that started the key stretch of the game. With Northwestern ahead by just four, 57-53, with five minutes to play, Law came flying in, exerting some extra effort on a Lindsey miss. Law got credit for the rebound after he tapped the ball out of a scrum, but more importantly he drew a foul, turning what could've been an empty possession into a pair of free throws.
Next trip down the floor, Nebraska turned the ball over, and Bryant McIntosh lobbed a fast-break pass to Law who finished with an emphatic two-handed slam for a roof-raising alley oop.
More effort from Law tapped a defensive rebound to Pardon the next trip down the floor, and McIntosh buried a couple free throws thanks to a Tim Miles technical foul. Those six straight points turned a four-point lead into a 10-point advantage, the beginnings of a 16-1 run that nearly got the Cats' lead up to 20 with a minute left.
Pardon was incredible with the first 20-plus-rebound game by a Northwestern player in nearly two decades and the first of the 21st century. He matched the single-game high for rebounds in a Big Ten game this season, tying Purdue's Caleb Swanigan, who's the odds-on favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year honors. That obviously makes this a career high for Pardon, eclipsing his previous best of 14, which came last season in a loss to Ohio State. This effort doubled Pardon's previous season high in rebounds.
There were a total of three Cats in double figures despite Lindsey's five points, the first time this season he failed to score in double figures. Law's 20 and Pardon's 19 were joined by the 10 points from Isiah Brown. McIntosh nearly had a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
Northwestern was also terrific defensively, holding Nebraska to just 61 points on 36.5-percent shooting. Entering the game, the Huskers were averaging 75.4 points a game (third best in the Big Ten) on 44.6 percent during conference play.
The win was the fifth straight for the Cats, who continue to prove their standing as one of the conference's top teams. At 6-2 in the league, Northwestern is tied for third with Purdue, trailing Wisconsin and Maryland, both 6-1, by a half game. The Cats, 17-4 overall, next play Indiana on Sunday.