Big Ten

Massive 31-0 first-half run propels Northwestern to Big Ten Tournament blowout of Rutgers


Massive 31-0 first-half run propels Northwestern to Big Ten Tournament blowout of Rutgers

WASHINGTON — If last Wednesday's buzzer-beating finish is now known in Northwestern circles as "The Play," well the Wildcats might need to also slap a trademark on "The Run."

Northwestern went on a monster 31-0 run during the first half Thursday that fueled an 83-61 victory over Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament.

The win advanced the Cats to Friday night's quarterfinal game against the Maryland Terrapins.

Northwestern trailed by a mere three points after a couple early Rutgers 3s, but they sprinted away on that gigantic run, taking full advantage of the Scarlet Knights going scoreless for more than 11 minutes. During the run, the Cats got five 3-pointers — two from Vic Law plus one apiece from Scottie Lindsey, Nathan Taphorn and Sanjay Lumpkin — and a highlight-reel alley-oop dunk from Law on a throw from Lindsey.

Rutgers eventually snapped its epic scoreless drought with a Nigel Johnson 3. But by the end of that 31-0 run, Northwestern owned a 28-point lead, and that advantage was 18 at halftime.

The Cats shot a sparkling 53.3 percent over the opening 20 minutes, knocking down six 3s and getting double-digit scoring performances from both Law and Dererk Pardon. Northwestern also benefited from 10 Rutgers turnovers, which the Cats turned into 14 points.

Scoring wasn't quite as simple in the second half, and Northwestern watched its lead shrink to 15 and 16 at points, still extremely comfortable advantages. But after Rutgers reached within 16, the Cats rattled off seven straight — capped by a Bryant McIntosh 3 — to grab a 23-point lead. And the lead ballooned from there, too, getting as big as 28 during the final 20 minutes.

Northwestern shot a jaw-dropping 70 percent from the field in the second half and finished with a 60-percent mark on the game. The Cats hit nine 3s, had a big 33-19 rebounding edge, scored 16 points off turnovers and dominated in the points-in-the-paint category, 34-20.

After inconsistent shooting stretches from Law and Lindsey at the end of the regular season, the two produced in a big way Thursday. Law finished with 16 points on 5-for-6 shooting, while Lindsey had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. McIntosh and Pardon also finished in double figures with 13 points apiece.

If there was any thought that the Cats still needed to add more to their resume to clinch an NCAA tournament berth — something that seemed unnecessary considering lesser Big Ten squads like Illinois, Iowa and Indiana were among the discussion entering championship week — this dominant performance ought to be plenty, even if came against the Knights. An impressive win like this and any subsequent wins in this tournament could also boost the Cats' seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

Northwestern advanced to a big rematch with Maryland on Friday night. The Terps won by double digits when these teams squared off the day after Valentine's Day in Evanston.

Rutgers' Big Ten Tournament run lasted just two days, though that's a day longer than most thought the Knights would stay in Washington. Thursday's win over Ohio State remains a big one for Steve Pikiell's program, but up against a team headed for the NCAA tournament, Rutgers had no chance on Thursday night.

Northwestern Wildcats pause football workouts after positive COVID-19 test

USA Today

Northwestern Wildcats pause football workouts after positive COVID-19 test

The Northwestern Wildcats have stopped football workouts due to a player testing positive for COVID-19. A university spokesperson says, the school is now undergoing “rigorous contact tracing and quarantine protocols to protect the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff.”

Some student-athletes have already been placed in quarantine, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The earliest any football activities can resume for the Wildcats is Wednesday, according to the university spokesperson.

Michigan State required their entire football team to go into quarantine in late July after several positive tests among players and staff.

In addition, the Big Ten announced they will play a conference-only schedule in 2020, if they’re able to play at all.

RELATED: Northwestern football will not host Wisconsin Badgers at Wrigley Field

Lou Henson, former Illinois Fighting Illini basketball coach, dies at 88

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Lou Henson, former Illinois Fighting Illini basketball coach, dies at 88

Hall of Fame former Fighting Illini head basketball coach Lou Henson died last Saturday. He was 88 years old.

Henson was the all-time wins leader at the University of Illinois, guiding the team to a 423-224 record from 1975-1996. That included a 214-164 record in Big Ten Conference play, and one Big Ten conference title in 1984.

He also led the Illini to 12 NCAA tournament appearances, the highlight being a Final Four berth with the 1988-89 “Flying Illini.”

"Our Orange and Blue hearts are heavy," said Josh Whitman, Illinois Director of Athletics, in a statement. "We have lost an Illini icon. We have lost a role model, a friend, and a leader. We have lost our coach.

“Coach Henson may be gone, but the memories he provided us, and the legacy he created, will last forever. He was responsible for almost 800 wins in the record book and countless Fighting Illini moments frozen in time, but Coach Henson's true measure will be felt in the lives he touched – the lives of his former players, people on this campus, and friends in our broader community.

“We are all better for whatever time we were privileged to spend with Coach Lou, whether it was five minutes or 50 years. He made everyone feel like a friend. I so enjoyed my time with Coach these last five years, and I will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mary, Lisa, Lori, Leigh Anne, and the entire Henson family. Their family will always be part of ours."

In addition to his iconic career at the University of Illinois, Henson coached at New Mexico State where he compiled another 289 victories, from 1966-1975 and 1997-2005. Henson is the wins leader at New Mexico State, as well.

His 779 career wins rank 28th all-time in NCAA history. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Hall of Fame in 2015. The same year, the newly renovated court at Illinois was renamed “Lou Henson Court.” The basketball court at New Mexico State is named “Lou Henson Court,” as well.

“He really was ahead of the game, in terms of bringing fan interaction and fan connection to a program,” said Stephen Bardo, one of Henson’s former players in a video on Twitter. “For me, Lou Henson’s voice got louder the longer after I left school. The more of an adult I became, the older my kids became, I would hear coach Henson’s voice more. I would impart the lessons I learned from him onto my children.

“He had an enormous impact on my life.”

RELATED: Big Ten to play conference-only NCAA football schedule 'if able'