"I just think we're playing at a nice level right now," said NU head coach Bill Carmody
When the Wildcats last played a small-conference team, against Stony Brook last Friday, a lackluster effort almost handed NU its first loss. Bill Carmody has his team focused and ready for the Delta Devils.
"Every team—as we saw with Stony Brook—has the ability to play." said NU guard Reggie Hearn, who finished with a career-high 15 points. "If we didn't come to play, that could bite us in the butt. Coaches were really stressing to take this game seriously."
Northwestern's starters set the tone from the start. A 14-0 run helped the Wildcats separate themselves in the early portion of the first half, and allowed Carmody to rest his starters.
Any night we win is a good night," said Shurna. "A lot of people contributed tonight."
Senior guard Nick Fruendt led all Wildcat scorers with a career-high 21 points, including four 3-pointers, off the bench.
"Coach has been saying this year, ‘just let it go,'" said Fruendt, who played 25 minutes. "I've been practicing a lot on my shooting, so I know I can make them. Especially in a game like this, you're just really warm, and can knock them down.
NU shot 68.8 percent from the field in the first half, while hitting 12 three-pointers, compared to the Delta Devils' meager 24.1 first-half percentage from the field.
Mississippi Valley State outscored the Wildcats by 13 points in the second half, but that wasn't nearly enough to overcome the large deficit.
The unbeaten Wildcats now turn their attention to Sunday's tough test with the seventh-ranked Baylor Bears, who are the highest ranked team to play at Welsh-Ryan Arena since 1989.
After the win on Friday, Bill Carmody kept the team in the locker room to look at the scouting report for Baylor.
"They're really talented. They've got a lot of big, strong athletes. They can play inside and out. They're very talented.
Tipoff for Sunday's game with Baylor is set for 3:00 CT.