Drew Crawford leaves during Northwestern loss

Northwestern lost to Missouri, 78-67, as Drew Crawford left the game.

There was hope, as usual. Northwestern raced to an early advantage against Missouri, leading 39-34 at the half. Jershon Cobb finally fulfilled the "star" promise, Dave Sobolewski led a potent offense and the Wildcats sustained a fierce defensive effort.

Then, as also happens, everything eroded. Drew Crawford left the game with back spasms – which Chris Collins disclosed to WGN Radio afterwards – and the undermanned, foul ridden lineup failed to keep up. NU eventually fell 78-67, with a heavy mixture of positives and negatives.

Cobb scored 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while freshman Nathan Taphorn added 11 points and four rebounds in the losing effort.

Missouri flashed its speed and athleticism on a 14-0 run to open the second half. They let NU linger until a late stretch lifted their lead to 13 with 5:02 remaining.

The Tigers made 24 free throws and shot 54 percent. Jordan Clarkson scored 21 points and Jabari Brown had 15, as their offensive firepower proved too much for NU.

More worrying for Northwestern, Drew Crawford left the game at exactly the 19:00 mark of the second half with back spasms. Given key foul trouble – and an inconsistent Alex Olah – that proved decimating for NU's chances. The lineup of Sobolewski, Cobb, Taphorn, Tre Demps and Kale Abrahamson was almost laughable due to its clear lack of height.

Otherwise, NU competed for most of the game — even in the face of adversity. The ‘Cats gave themselves a chance to earn the surprising victory. They'll have another opportunity tomorrow against UCLA, hopefully with a healthy Drew Crawford.

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