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Crawford, Northwestern basketball comes out firing in win over Texas Southern

Northwestern's Drew Crawford (1) celebrates with Mike Turner (10) after scoring against Texas Southern during first half their NCAA college

Northwestern's Drew Crawford (1) celebrates with Mike Turner (10) after scoring against Texas Southern during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:29AM

Senior Drew Crawford will be the go-to guy for Northwestern this season, and a host of newcomers showed Tuesday they might be the supporting cast coach Bill Carmody needs.

Crawford scored all of his game-high 20 points in the first half of a 79-49 season-opening victory over Texas Southern at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Freshman Kale Abrahamson had an eye-opening second half, scoring all 15 of his points and grabbing four rebounds in 19 minutes. Abrahamson was one of six new players in the game for the Wildcats.

‘‘I liked our defense tonight, and Drew got hot in the first half,’’ Carmody said. ‘‘My big guys are freshmen, but they’ll help us. For a first game it was nice, and we got a lot of guys in there.’’

Crawford was nearly unstoppable in 24 minutes, shooting 8-for-12 from the field, including 4-for-6 from three-point range. He also had three assists, two blocks and two steals.

‘‘It’s one of those days where you feel pretty good,’’ Crawford said.

An 18-0 run in the first half helped the Cats open a 41-9 lead. Their 43-14 halftime lead marked the lowest first-half point total by an opponent since Dec. 1, 2008, when UC-Riverside also was held to 14.

Abrahamson shot 4-for-6 from the field, including 3-for-4 from three-point range.

‘‘I really appreciated the opportunity,’’ said Abrahamson, who has drawn comparisons to Northwestern all-time leading scorer John Shurna. ‘‘I’ve heard that [comparison] a few times, but I try to stay away from comparisons like that. But it’s an honor.’’

Senior Jared Swopshire, who transferred from Louisville, had nine points, eight rebounds and two assists.

‘‘It felt great,’’ said Swopshire, who was part of the Cardinals’ Final Four team last season. ‘‘I got in the flow out there.’’

The Wildcats recorded 24 assists on 29 baskets, shooting 50 percent for the game (29-for-58) while holding the Tigers (0-2) to 29.3 percent (6-for-29) from the floor.

‘‘We couldn’t make shots, but chasing them around had a lot to do with it,’’ Texas Southern coach Mike Davis said.

‘‘I like [Northwestern] and Crawford as a leader. They’re always well-coached and [have] a difficult system to play against.’’

The opener was the first of four games in eight days for the Wildcats, who host Mississippi Valley State on Thursday.

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