Northwestern won and is rewarded with a date against OSU on Friday.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

Northwestern won and is rewarded with a date against OSU on Friday. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

 

INDIANAPOLIS-  Minnesota started the game with a shout as Rodney Williams turned the Gophers’ first possession into a thunderous dunk.  However, they ended the game with little more than a whisper as the Northwestern Wildcats won 75-65 in the first game of the Big Ten Tournament.

The game was very close at the half as the with each team going on a run during the first half.  However, in the second half it appeared that only one team showed up.  The Wildcats were simply the better team in the second half, showing more hustle, toughness and stamina in the second half.  A flurry of 3 pointers by Northwestern led to a 8-0 run in the middle of the second half before Tubby Smith called a desperation timeout.  However the Gophers never seemed to recover from that run, and the game belonged to Northwestern from that point on.

Michael Thompson was an absolute force for the Wildcats, scoring 35 points on 11 of 22 shooting, along with 5 three pointers.  He also managed to go a perfect 8 for 8 from the line on the game.  Several times throughout the game Thompson slashed through the Gopher defense leaving the defenders seeming lost and confused.  Alex Marcotullio and Drew Crawford also helped the cause chipping in 13 and 15 points respectively.

Minnesota was led by Trevor Mbakwe who ended with a double-double scoring 19 points and hauling in 11 rebounds.  However, despite their advantage in the paint Minnesota only managed to shoot 37% on the game, due in large part to outstanding defense by Northwestern.  Passing lanes into the paint were consistently clogged, and didn’t allow Minnesota to take full advantage of their size.

Northwestern now moves on to take on number 1 seed Ohio State on Friday.