Whatever the circumstance, Collins hoped Northwestern would be a tough out. And Sunday, his team was.
NU pulled off a road stunner against Purdue, 74-65, its second win against the Boilermakers this year.
After his dismal game on Senior Night, Drew Crawford rebounded to score 27 points—including 13 free throw makes.
Alex Olah also had another superb outing, dropping 14 points and adding seven rebounds in the win. Dave Sobolewski even contributed, with eight points, four rebounds and three assists.
Like many NU victims, Purdue struggled badly for the perimeter. The team shot just 4-of-18 from behind the arc, and only 41 percent from two. They also made just 19 percent of their first-half attempts. Despite another strong outing from upstart guard Rapheal Davis, who had 13 and 9 boards, the Boilermakers lacked their past offensive presence.
The story was that NU kept it together under adversity. Without Jershon Cobb—lost for the season to injury—Collins' team won the right way. They committed only six turnovers to 12 assists, reversing their Senior Night numbers, and knocked down 25 free throws.
For the most part, it was a comfortable win. NU led by 15 with just more than six minutes remaining. Even with the usual difficulties breaking the press, the lead never got smaller than six.
It was a fitting end for a Wildcats team that deserved the win. With injuries and with slumping, the sometimes-overmatched team kept going. Their physical defense and strong close made Collins' first season an almost undisputed success.
Purdue finishes last in the Big Ten. Northwestern does not. The Wildcats, before traveling to Indy, can hang onto another sweet road win.