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February 1, 2014

Northwestern wins in Minnesota, 55-54


MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.-At this point, there's really no telling what this Northwestern team might accomplish.

Just days after beating Wisconsin on the road, the Cats went into The Barn and escaped with a 55-54 win over the Gophers.

For the first time in fifty-four years, Northwestern has won three straight Big Ten road games, and as Chris Collins continues to build his case for Big Ten coach of the year, the Cats are showing no signs of slowing down.

Here then, from Minneapolis, are our Rapid Reactions following another huge Northwestern win.



Did you see that? Nikola Cerina's turnover and Austin Hollins' jam. If not for Tre Demps' huge three-pointer, this would've been the turning point. With four minutes left and Northwestern up 50-48, Minnesota put on the full-court press. Not seeing anyone to pass to, Cerina tried to dribble the ball downcourt and lost it out of bounds. When the Golden Gophers went back down the court, DeAndre Mathieu drove the lane and hit a streaking Hollins for the fierce, game-tying two-handed dunk.



Offensive player of the game: Drew Crawford. He struggled early in Big Ten play, but Northwestern's unquestioned leader has been very efficient on offense over the last few days. Rather than relying on catch-and-shoot opportunities, Crawford has been taking guys one-on-one and hitting tough outside shots. Against the Gophers, he finished with 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting.



Defensive player of the game: Sanjay Lumpkin. The freshman came back to his home state and played like he had something to prove. He snatched three steals and dove on the floor for loose balls as usual, but he made his biggest impact on the boards. He went after them like a madman and finished with seven. Of course, the negative side to that is that he became saddled with foul trouble and was booed like crazy by the home fans for his aggression.



Turning point: Demps' clutch three. At this point, I could probably just copy and paste what has been said from past games. Demps did it againSaturday. Minnesota had just tied the game at 52 with a little over a minute left. Northwestern broke the press, ran the shot clock down, and gave it to their sophomore stud. He tried a couple hesitation moves at the top of the key, then rose up from beyond the arc and drilled the go-ahead bucket.



Atmosphere: Following the pro-style atmosphere of Wisconsin's Kohl Center, Williams Arena was a return to the classic, historic arena feel of Assembly Hall in Indiana. The gym has a major echo, so any cheering from the crowd was multiplied. "The Barn" did not disappoint, particularly the usual crew of students dressed up in farm animal outfits.



Key stat: Zero points and one rebound for Alex Olah. After being touted as the Big Ten's most improved player by several analysts around the conference, the big man didn't go out and play like it. He struggled to contain Minnesota forward Mo Walker, who was able to get deep position and score at will in the first half. On offense, he didn't get many touches, and when he did, he ended up shooting from farther out than he would've preferred.



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