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JerShon Cobb lifts Northwestern over IUPUI with :01.7 left

JerShCobb Ian Chiles

JerShon Cobb, Ian Chiles

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Updated: December 24, 2013 6:19AM



Sanjay Lumpkin played great for Northwestern when the team hosted IUPUI at Welsh-Ryan ­Arena on Friday night. Kale Abrahamson and Nate Taphorn gave admirable efforts off the bench. Alex Olah had a nice second half.

But none of that matters if Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb aren’t scoring. The two are coach Chris Collins’ only consistent offensive options.

That was apparent when Collins had to continue to call their number, even in the waning seconds, when Cobb scored the game-winner on a runner with 1.7 seconds left to lift Northwestern past a bad IUPUI team 63-61 in a Las Vegas Invitational game.

“He was the guy I wanted with the ball, even though he didn’t have one of his better nights,” Collins said. “He’s our creator at the end of clocks. He’s our late-game guy, and he just made a play.

“If the Chicago Bulls play and Derrick Rose and [Luol] Deng don’t show up, they’re probably not going to win. I don’t care who else plays well. Yeah, [Crawford and Cobb] are our guys. They’re our best players.”

Crawford and Cobb playing their best doesn’t guarantee the Wildcats a win. But when they’re playing their worst, it’s almost a certainty Northwestern will lose.

That was evident in the first half, when Crawford and Cobb combined to shoot 1-for-9 from the field for a total of two points.

Northwestern doesn’t have the horses. Bill Carmody, fired after last season, left Collins with little ammunition.

The Wildcats probably have the shortest bench in the Big Ten and don’t have the cast to support off-nights from Crawford and Cobb. The duo has no margin for error.

“We need to score the basketball,” Crawford said. “We need to just be out there, be leaders, and both of us struggled with that in the first half. We weren’t doing it. We weren’t playing our role.”

Crawford has the potential to lead the Big Ten in scoring and could play for any team in the conference. While Crawford is the more potent scorer, Cobb is more effective at getting to the basket. And he knows Collins relies on him in those situations.

“I’m a pretty confident basketball player,” Cobb said. “Even though things weren’t going my way the whole game, I knew if I got the ball [at the end] I was going to score.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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