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January 5, 2014

Rapid reactions: Cats drop third straight


ANN ARBOR, Mich.-Northwestern hung around for a half, but Michigan outscored the Wildcats by 16 in the second half to coast to a 74-51 win.

It was the third straight loss for a Wildcat team that is still struggling to find enough offense to compete.

Here are our rapid reactions:



Did you see that? JerShon Cobb's drive-and-dish to Nikola Cerina for a dunk. Despite being largely ineffective for the majority of the game, Cobb did show sparks of his playmaking potential. Midway through the first half, he got the ball at the top of the key, faked Wolverine point guard Derrick Walton out with a left-to-right crossover and drove into the lane. When Cerina's man stepped up to stop Cobb, he dished to the big man on the right block, who finished with a strong two-handed dunk. The jam gave Northwestern a 10-9 lead.



Offensive player of the game: Drew Crawford in an easy decision. Right from the get-go, Crawford was far and away the most aggressive player on the floor for Northwestern, and maybe for both teams. If he had enough room to get off a shot, it was going up. He knocked down threes, faced up defenders for mid-range jumpers, and even drove the lane for a tough spinning floater. He had 13 of the Wildcats' 24 first-half points and finished with 17. The second half saw him turn the ball over several times, but without his aggression it would've been a wider margin of defeat than it was.



Defensive player of the game: Sanjay Lumpkin. This has become sort of a default pick because Lumpkin is so consistently solid on D. Switches on screens left him guarding almost everyone on the floor at one point or another, but he always seemed to look comfortable. As the season wears on, we'll see how his defensive versatility matches up against the best in the Big Ten. Cerina comes in a close second in this category. Early in the season, his help defense and recovery time was very inconsistent, but he rotated well against Michigan and gave Alex Olah a quick respite on several occasions.



Turning point: Glenn Robinson III's jam. Until the midpoint of the second half, Northwestern was hanging around with the Wolverines, even threatening to create a one-possession game. Michigan responded by driving the lane and earning trips to the free throw line. Then, one of Northwestern's 12 turnovers essentially sealed the Wildcats' fate. Cobb tried to drive the lane and was ripped by freshman Zak Irvin, who played a little give-and-go with Robinson before tossing up an alley-oop that Robinson slammed home to put the Wolverines up 14.



Atmosphere: It was a pretty solid showing from the home crowd. Considering the strength of the opponent and the awful weather conditions, students and fans alike still made their way to Crisler Arena. Not a single purple-clad fan was in sight, apart from the parents right behind the bench. Once the game got going, there wasn't too much to cheer about, so the loudest points in the game were when the referees missed a call against Northwestern, particularly when Crawford went right over a defender's back for a loose ball.



Super sub: Kale Abrahamson. When he's given good minutes, the sophomore has shown that he can be productive on offense, but there's clearly something holding coach Chris Collins back from giving them to him. He played just five minutes in the first half, and in that time he scored the Wildcats' final five points to send them into the locker room down just seven. Abrahamson was quiet for most of the second half before hitting a late 3, but he made a solid overall case for more playing time going forward, with almost everyone else struggling to hit shots.



Xs and Os: Tre Demps had his second straight subpar shooting performance, hitting just 2 of 10 shots for 5 points. Since scoring 23 points against DePaul, Demps has hit just 3 of 18 shots over the last two games.




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