Northwestern made the NCAA tournament for the first time last season, and entering Tuesday’s trip to Georgia Tech for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the Wildcats are hoping they have overcome a rough beginning. The Wildcats beat Sacred Heart on Friday after losing two of their previous three games, including an ugly 36-point loss to Texas Tech that leading scorer Scottie Lindsey described as “embarrassing.”
“It was more about us getting back to playing the way we have the last couple of years,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins told reporters Friday after the Wildcats won 81-50 as Lindsey scored 19 points. “I thought we made a big step in the right direction.” The Yellow Jackets have won three in a row since losing their season opener to UCLA in China, and freshmen guards are starting to emerge as Georgia Tech waits out Josh Okogie’s suspension. Jose Alvarado scored 19 points in Friday’s 63-49 victory over North Texas, and Curtis Haywood II added 15 as Georgia Tech pulled away. “We had better pace and were able to get some fast-break opportunities,” Yellow Jackets coach Josh Pastner told the media afterward.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (4-2): Lindsey ranks fifth in the Big Ten in scoring at 17.8 points per game, leading the Wolverines in scoring three times in six games. Bryant McIntosh is Northwestern’s all-time assist leader and is 12th on the school’s all-time scoring list, averaging 15.3 points and shooting 19-of-19 from the free-throw line. The Wolverines are allowing opponents to shoot 48.2 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from 3-point range.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH (3-1): Tadric Jackson came off the bench to score 14 points Friday in his first game back from a three-game suspension. Center Ben Lammers, who nursed a sprained ankle through Friday’s game, leads the Yellow Jackets in scoring (17 points per game), rebounding (8.5), blocks and steals. Georgia Tech is limiting the opposition to 60.6 points per game and have surrendered more than 63 points once.
1. Okogie has two games remaining on a six-game suspension for accepting impermissible benefits.
2. Northwestern leads the Big Ten in free-throw percentage (76.1 percent).
3. The Wolverines have shot better than 50 percent from the field just once in six games.
PREDICTION: Northwestern 69, Georgia Tech 65