The first half went exactly how Northwestern Drew it up.
Senior Drew Crawford lived up to his billing as NU’s go-to-guy, literally from the tipoff against Texas Southern.
Senior Jared Swopshire won the tip, sending the ball to freshman Alex Olah who instantly hit Crawford with an outlet for a layup. Playing almost the entire half, Crawford poured in 20 points from all over the court on 8-9 shooting, including four three-pointers to put the Wildcats up 43-14 at the break.
“Drew sort of got hot in the first half there, which pushed the game open,” said head coach Bill Carmody. “I think he's going to have a terrific year, a breakout year.”
Crawford cooled in the second half, missing his only three attempts. But his work was already done, as he and the other starters rested on the way to a 79-49 Northwestern victory. Though hitting his first eight shots marked a terrific start to the season, it seemed business as usual for Crawford.
“It was just one of those days where you feel pretty good,” he said. “We try to have those as often as we can. Coach Carmody always says make shots, so we work on it in practice every day and that’s something we try to do.”
Many questioned how Northwestern would divide the departed John Shurna’s sizeable scoring load. Crawford certainly answered some of those concerns with his performance, and it’s fair to say last season’s 16.1 points per game might see an uptick. His coach expects nothing less from the veteran forward.
“Now Shurna's gone, and it's on [Drew] a little bit more,” said Carmody. “He started off, we got the tip and he scored the next couple baskets. Then [Texas Southern] was sagging and the shot was open, I've seen that before in practice and in some games. [His shot] is smooth, there's no hitch to it, it goes in a lot.”
Texas Southern head coach Mike Davis came away a fan of Crawford, calling his leadership abilities crucial to Northwestern’s success. Although the senior had an impressive game, according to Davis, Crawford influenced the outcome before even touching the ball.
"Crawford is a special player,” he said. “He made shots. I saw him warming up—when you warm up with the focus and concentration he had, you play that way."
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