Sobo, Swop Step Up As ‘Cats Crush Penn State 70-54 For 1st B1G Win

Northwestern at Penn State

Well, that was fun. Based on the ‘Cats traditional horrific play in the Bryce Jordan Center, you felt as though Penn State’s ice cold point blank shooting might have been due to the teams playing a trick on fans. It wasn’t. David Sobolewski came out with his normal vigor and was able to lead the ‘Cats charge against the Tim Frazier-less Nittany Lions (8-7,0-3) who simply couldn’t buy a basket all night long. Sobo led the ‘Cats with 18 points and really managed the tempo of the game brilliantly.  However, it was senior Jared Swopshire who opened the game with a vengeance scoring nine of NU’s first 10 points and helped set the aggressive attack-the-basket tone that was an unfamiliar sight as of late.

The ‘Cats used a Sobo spark as part of a huge 25-6 first half run that really enabled them to almost go prevent in the second half as a pair of Sobo threes combined with a dash of Hearn and some 3-point daggers from Kale Abrahamson all mixed together for a 33-18 lead for Northwestern (10-6,1-2).  I guess you can give NU some credit as they held the home team to a miserable 31% FG shooting clip, but really, a lot of blame has to go to Penn State as they were in constant position in the low post, but couldn’t convert on bunny after bunny.  PSU also went 0-fer from three in the first half. Give credit to NU for playing with passion with the lead. The ‘Cats withstood every mini run the Nittany Lions mounted and they really played one of their more composed games of the season. It was also a great mix of penetration and low post scoring with timely three point shooting as NU finished 9-of-22 behind the arc. Kale Abrahamson seemed to have the most loud three pointers as he continues to get more aggressive on offense (3-5 3 pt shooting, 10 pts).  Sobo led the way with 18 pts on a 50% shooting night (7/14, 3/6 from 3 pt land) and Jared really played fantastic tonight finishing with 17 points, 7 reb and 3 assists. Reggie Hearn battled his way to 14 points with half of them coming from the charity stripe. The ‘Cats still got outrebounded (35 to 31), but the disparity in field goal percentage more than made up for it on this night.

The game was much more lopsided than the score even indicates as NU was living with a 20+ point lead for much of the second half. The ‘Cats season opening gauntlent of top ten Michigan and Minnesota surely made you feel that wins would be few and far between in conference play with such a shorthanded team this season. Now, NU hosts a feisty 0-3 Iowa team on Sunday before resuming a murderer’s row schedule that includes games at Illinois, home vs Indiana and Minnesota. You’d like to think returning home with a nice bounce in the step off of this win could potentially carry over to Sunday’s game at Iowa.

I have to admit, this was a pleasant surprise. I’m not totally shocked that we won, as Penn State is just not a good team, however I am shocked at the ease with which we won, never really getting threatened throughout. Congratulations to the ‘Cats on their much needed first conference victory of the season. Let’s hope there are more nights like this to come.

  • Alan Casey

    We really needed this one. Great job Wildcats! I never thought that the sky was falling, but I was beginning to look up to check . . .

  • David

    Fitz pulled Ray Davidson’s offer, 3 star LB from So Cal. Despite being committed to NU he chose to take a visit to Cal. Fitz says no soft commitments.

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      Quite the statement. There is a ton more of that stuff going on within the B1G than any of the coaches have let on to. Michigan has gone after Alviti and he hasn’t wavered.

      • cebpd

        how do you know that, out of curiousity?

    • Scott Feeney

      I had heard that Davison was toying with Cal. Do we know that is the reason that Fitz pulled the offer for sure? In a way, it sounds a little bit out of character that Fitz would be opposed to a kid taking a look at another school even if it is so close to signing day. Perhaps there is something more to this.

  • NUMBalumDave

    I wished I had time to make it up to Happy Valley. All these years, and I’ve never been able to make a game at Brice Jordan. It’ll happen someday, but it should would have been nice if it could have been last night. Go Cats!

  • Icehockeycat

    Very good to watch this – the team had some more spice tonight and if we can play with this much energy, we may steal 1 or 2 we should not win. Nice to be on the giving side for once…

    Comment on Cobb as well – I am very happy that he has stayed around as well. His comments about it being his issue and not anyone from the team really shows his character and maturity. I hope he has a major major breakout next season. I will be pulling for him hard; he just became my favourite player

  • Scott Feeney

    I commend to everyone the following Rick Telender article on “snake-oil” coaches. I only wish it included PSU’s O’Brien in it.

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/colleges/17504206-419/telander-brian-kelly-carrying-on-tradition-of-snake-oil-coaches.html

  • Road Win

    The team played with sustained intensity last night and showed some skills, often flummoxing Penn State’s offense. To win so convincingly is heartening, and shows that this team, even with its greatly diminished personnel, yet has some potency. Yes, Penn State is not a power. The win is encouraging.

    I wonder what role coaching plays in such success? When the Cats lose, there are great wails of pain expressed on this blog and contumely is heaped on the coaches (in football and basketball). The more intemperate, a lusty band, make demands: “Fire him!” With a win, especially in mens’ bball, there is rarely such intensity of praise, little specificity on strategy or key moments of play, and mere, timid silence from complainers. This contradiction is greatly dismaying. I don’t think the men’s bball team, but for UIC game and perhaps Stanford, has lost any games it should have won. It could certainly have more wins (Butler), but Michigan and Minnesota seem, logically at the moment, out of reach. (Could have been better against Maryland?) No one has done anything shameful and should enjoy fruit when performing well. Recruiting? The winningest men’s bball teams, nearly without exception, lose their stars after one or two years; NU likely couldn’t sustain itself in that way and complaints on that should be viewed with, at the least, some skepticism.

  • purplebadger

    I have to concur with Road Win–way too much coach bashing, never any credit. I think the win last night was impressive. You cannot trivialize the loss of key players. It seems like, after a while, people tend to forget what a hole losing the likes of Cobb & Crawford creates. See how Wisconsin struggles with the loss of Gasser, who only put up 7 ppg. last year. But he did the intangibles. Cobb, if playing, would the perfect guy to get his shot (that hard to defend step-back jumper) when the shot clock is running out. So, let’s give credit when due. Also, can we please stick to bball posts when bball is the topic? Plenty of fball posts the comment on…

  • cs93

    Nice win last night. The boys shot the ball well and had a nice balance of 3- and 2-point attempts. Best of all, they rebounded well. No, they didn’t “win” the rebounding battle but they didn’t get killed on the boards either. And that’s a plus. Also, Olah led the team in rebounds which he should be able to do every night. When a guard like Hearn or even Sobo leads the team in boards, that’s generally not a good sign.

    The defense still didn’t look good though. Penn State had plenty of open looks. They just couldn’t hit the side of a barn last night. We were fortunate in that regard.

    Let’s get after Iowa on Sunday. They look like a better team this year so it won’t be easy. But we generally play well against the Hawkeyes.

  • Alaskawildcat

    Last night’s game was a real treat since with its being broadcast on ESPNU I got to catch it here in Alaska. I had been dreading reading LTP’s promised posting on the state of our BB team but getting to see the game being played in Happy Valley certainly softened the blow. Whether the team makes a return to the post season or not, if these Cats can play with the heart and skill demonstrated last night there is belief with evidence that with a little luck things are brighter than they may have appeared when we first began B1G play.

West Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Nebraska5010
Minnesota4110
Iowa4110
Northwestern2210
Wisconsin3100
Illinois3201
Purdue2301

East Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Maryland4110
Ohio State3100
Michigan State3100
Penn State4111
Rutgers4101
Indiana2201
Michigan2301