After a disappointing defensive effort in a recent home loss, No. 20 Northwestern came to the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Connecticut looking to show improvement in that area. The Wildcats were able to step up their intensity on defense to reach the title game of the event Sunday against Texas Tech.
“In the first half we came out ready to play,” Northwestern guard Bryant McIntosh told reporters after Saturday’s 82-74 win over La Salle. “We really defended and held them to 24 points (in the first half).” McIntosh led the way with 21 points and fellow senior Scottie Lindsey added 20 for the Wildcats, who shot 56.1 percent from the field and made 12-of-21 from 3-point range. The Red Raiders advanced to the title game by virtue of a 75-64 victory over Boston College, riding a career-high 29 points from senior Keenan Evans. Sunday marks the first ever meeting between the programs.
TV: 5 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT TEXAS TECH (3-0): Senior Zach Smith chipped in 11 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and a steal in a quality effort against Boston College, and coach Chris Beard likes what he sees of his veteran players. “It felt like, almost, a Big 12 atmosphere and game,” Beard told the media. “We have a lot of respect for Boston College. But, tonight, Keenan and Zach looked like all-conference players, they looked like seniors trying to get something done their senior year.” Evans is 14-for-14 from the line over his last two games and has two total turnovers in 72 minutes this season.
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (3-1): The Wildcats opened the season hitting 11 3-pointers and 47 free throws through the first two contests, but they’ve turned the tables on their offensive approach with 24 3-pointers and only 18 made free throws in the last two games. “We have a good shooting team, especially now when you add Aaron Falzon,” coach Chris Collins told reporters, referencing his sophomore forward who made his season debut Saturday. “We have a number of guys out there that can come in there and do that.” Falzon missed much of last season due to injury and sat out the first three in 2017-18 due to a hip issue, but showed little rust while making 3-of-5 from 3-point range in 18 minutes.
1. McIntosh made 5-of-6 from 3-point range against La Salle and is 8-for-11 in a three-game hot stretch after missing all five of his attempts from beyond the arc in the season opener.
2. Red Raiders freshman G Jarrett Culver has back-to-back 11-point efforts after being held to two in his collegiate debut.
3. Texas Tech has allowed 52.7 points per game, compared to 76.8 for Northwestern.
PREDICTION: Northwestern 78, Texas Tech 73