EVANSTON – After struggling in years following their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, it was a moment that was a long time coming for Chris Collins and the program.
A 79-65 win over No. 4 Michigan State Sunday at Welsh Ryan Arena is arguably the biggest for the program since they made the 2017 NCAA Tournament. It comes just a season after the Wildcats finished up 8-23, where they were only victorious in the Big Ten three times.
Many wondered what the team’s response would be after a monumental win over the Spartans when they headed to Indiana for their second conference game on Wednesday night. Collins got his answer in the affirmative, and because of it, the Wildcats did something they haven’t in over a decade.
The Wildcats took a big early lead, lost it, but rallied back to finish off a 74-67 win over the Hoosiers in Bloomington to improve to 2-0 in the Big Ten. That’s the first time the program has started off conference play with consecutive victories since the 2005-2006 season, not even doing so in their tournament year of 2016-2017.
Chase Audige, who is finding quick success in the Northwestern offense, led the balanced scoring attack with 17 points with three others getting in double digits as well. It’s shown through the season as well, with Boo Buie leading the scorers were 14.5 a game with Audige and Miller Kopp right behind with 13.8.
All have helped the Wildcats to a quick 5-1 start to the 2020-2021 season which has them flying high to start the Big Ten season. Indeed there would be no letdown in Game 2 of the conference slate after a Game 1 to remember.