Wildcats Win On Senior Night

On Senior Night, Northwestern (17-12, 7-11) was able to send their senior class out in style with a 68-57 win over Minnesota.

Alex Marcotullio scored a career-high 18 points, while Michael Thompson also finished with 18. Also scoring in double-figures were John Shurna with 15 points and Davide Curletti, who scored 12 points, his second-consecutive game with double-digit scoring. Minnesota was led by forward Trevor Mbakwe, who finished with another double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds. However, it's fitting enough that on ‘Senior Night' at Welsh-Ryan Arena, it was Michael ‘Juice' Thompson who stole the show.

His big night started with his family at midcourt, during the pregame senior ceremony. However, Thompson wasn't the same in the first half. He had just three points on 1-9 shooting. After that, something clicked. Thompson scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half, and was key in Northwestern's victory.

"It takes special guys to have a bad half and then come back with a great half like he did," said NU head coach Bill Carmody.

It didn't look like Northwestern was going to have a positive outcome on their big night. The ‘Cats trailed by six points at halftime, and things were only getting worse.

At the 13:59 mark, Minnesota opened up a 41-31 lead. The Wildcats were in trouble. It was time for Juice Thompson to lead his team back.

He delivered.

Thompson would hit a three-pointer, and everything changed from there. The Wildcats would close out the game on a 37-16 run, with Thompson and Alex Marcotullio combining to score 27 of those points.

The Wildcats started slow, but Bill Carmody agreed that the emotions of Senior Night are what held the ‘Cats back.

"We told the guys it was going to be emotional, and for the first minutes of the half, it's going to be rough," Carmody said. "There was about 25 minutes where it was a little rough."

Once again, Juice Thompson delivered a big performance, but he was able to get help from the bench in the form of Alex Marcotullio. The sophomore guard scored 13 of his career-high 18 points in the second half, which helped propel the Wildcats to the win.

"As a shooter, you just got to keep shooting," Marcotullio said. "My teammates kept finding me in a place where I could hit shots. Give all the credits to my teammates."

Meanwhile, tonight was another horrible collapse for Tubby Smith's Minnesota Golden Gophers, who have dropped nine of their last ten games, dating back to the first matchup between these two teams.

However, there will be a third matchup between the Wildcats and Gophers, with the stakes at its highest. The two teams will meet in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. That game will be played on Thursday, March 10th, at Conseco Fieldhouse.

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