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Coach K pays Northwestern visit after team snaps skid

Sanjay Lumpklooks take rebound away from Western Michigan’s Conor TavSaturday. Northwestern (5-5) held Broncos 24.4 percent shooting. | AP

Sanjay Lumpkin looks to take a rebound away from Western Michigan’s Conor Tava on Saturday. Northwestern (5-5) held the Broncos to 24.4 percent shooting. | AP

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Updated: January 9, 2014 10:02AM

Northwestern coach Chris Collins admitted he wasn’t known for his defense when he played at Duke.

“So for [Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski] to be at one of my games where my team holds a team to 35 points, that means a lot to me,” ­Collins said.

Krzyzewski watched from the stands as the Wildcats limited Western Michigan to 24.4 percent shooting in a 51-35 victory Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“It was great to see him and hear what he had to say. It was an honor to have him in the building,” said guard/forward Drew Crawford, who had 15 points and nine rebounds to help Northwestern (5-5) snap a three-game losing streak.

Crawford said Krzyzewski addressed the team after the game.

“His message was keep fighting as a team and make sure we are doing things together and playing with the right attitude,” Crawford said.

That attitude started defensively, and with some slight tweaks to the starting lineup. James Montgomery and Nikola Cerina started at guard and ­center instead of Dave Sobolewski and Alex Olah.

“For me, it’s not about being down on anybody,” Collins said. “When things aren’t working, you can’t just watch it continue to not work. You’ve got to find solutions.

“After our last couple of games, I felt like we needed some energy in the lineup. The one guy who really hadn’t had a chance yet to show what he could do was James. My instincts told me to give him a chance. I wanted him to guard the point guard and I wanted him to set the tone with his defense.”

The Broncos (5-3) went 10-for-41 from the floor and had 12 points at halftime. Western Michigan didn’t reach 20 until 10:01 to go in the game.

“It was a mind-set we had,” Crawford said. “We have been struggling defensively a little bit the last few games. We really wanted to attack them with our defense.”

The Wildcats won in front of the special visitor despite shooting just 32.7 percent.

“Coach K is like part of my family,” Collins said. “He’s in town recruiting and he reached out to me. He’s here with [assistant] Jeff Capel. Both of those guys are like part of my family. It was an honor to have him at our game.”


Twitter: @lamondpope

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