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Drew Crawford scores 26 points in Northwestern basketball’s victory

Northwestern's Tre Demps (14) attempts basket over Mississippi Valley State defenders Daniel Hurrt (33) CamerDobbs (11) during second half an

Northwestern's Tre Demps (14) attempts a basket over Mississippi Valley State defenders Daniel Hurrt (33) and Cameron Dobbs (11) during the second half of an NCAA basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. Northwestern won 86-64. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty) ORG XMIT: ILPB103

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Updated: January 18, 2014 6:30AM

Calling Northwestern’s home game Monday against Mississippi Valley State a litmus test wouldn’t be accu-
rate. Typically, that’s a measurement reserved for when you’re playing a team of some stature.

Considering the Wildcats were facing grossly inferior competition, a close game could have been an indictment of them. Good thing NU turned in one of its best shooting nights of the season in an 86-64 romp against the Delta Devils.

The Wildcats (6-5) had four players score in double figures, led by Drew Crawford with 26 points. But it’s hard to get too excited about beating a team whose best victory this season was a one-pointer against Longwood.

The game offered no indi-
cation about whether NU could muster that kind of
offensive effort when Big Ten play rolls around. How could it against a team that has struggled against every Division I opponent it has faced?

But as far as coach Chris Collins is concerned, the Wildcats proved they can play the kind of offense that is part of the formula for winning Big Ten games.

‘‘Especially when we get into the Big Ten, defenses are so good, people scout you so well, you’ve got to find ways to get out in the open court and make some plays and get some shots,’’ Collins said. ‘‘They were trying to pick us up [full court]. I thought we threw ahead [to get on the break].’’

Maybe most encouraging was that NU won without one of its best offensive players. Guard JerShon Cobb, who sprained his ankle in practice Thursday, missed the game, but Collins seemed optimistic he might be back for the Wildcats’ game Sunday against Brown.

Cobb’s absence caused NU to rely too heavily on Crawford at times. And while Crawford is one of the most potent scorers in the Big Ten, relying on him too heavily will be disastrous for the Wildcats in conference play.

‘‘Throwing the ball in to Drew is great for us, but we need to cut,’’ said guard Tre Demps, who added 18 points. ‘‘That opens things for him, and also guys can get open looks or open cuts. So I think that’s kind of turned into the main emphasis of our offense.’’


Twitter: @SethGruen

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