Scoring has been Northwestern’s biggest challenge this season, but on Saturday against Purdue the Wildcats made it look easy.
Reggie Hearn hit his first nine shots to shift the focus from the matchup between freshmen centers to the resurgence of the former walk-on who has developed into the Wildcats go-to scorer.
Hearn broke out of a two-game scoring slump with a career-high 26 points --- including a 21 in the first half --- as Northwestern rolled over Purdue 75-60 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The matchup between 7-footers Alex Olah of Northwestern and A.J. Hammons of Purdue was overshadowed by Hearn, who had just 13 points combined in Northwestern’s last two games, both losses.
Hammons scored 30 points against Indiana last week but didn’t start against Northwestern because he was late for the bus.
The Wildcats (13-10 overall, 4-6 Big Ten) took advantage, jumping out to a 10-0 lead before Hammons made his way to the scorer’s table. Purdue (11-11, 4-5) trailed 43-29 at the half and by as many as 21 in the second half.
Hammons was the more productive post player. The former Oak Hill Academy (Virg.) standout had 19 points and 13 rebounds.
But Olah continues to gain confidence and finished with nine points, including a pair of long jumpers, and grabbed three rebounds. He also had five assists before appearing to re-aggravate an ankle injury late in the game.
Jared Swopshire had 13 points and six rebounds for the Wildcats, who connected on eight of 12 3-pointers in the half and 11 of 25 for the game. Dave Sobolewski added 13 points and six assists while Tre Demps had 12.
D.J. Byrd scored 12 for the Boilermakers, who made just a third of their shots from the floor, while Anthony Johnson had 11.
*Northwestern also announced Saturday that they will hold a joint press conference Tuesday with the Cubs, where they are expected to announce several future football games to be played at Wrigley Field.
*Pat Ryan, the former chairman of the Northwestern Board of Trustees and frequent donor, Olympic swimmer Matt Grevers, three-time Big Ten Softball Player of the Year Garland Cooper and four-time All-American lacrosse player Kristen Kjellman were inducted into the Northwestern Athletic Hall of Fame.