EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Dererk Pardon dominated on the glass in a way no Northwestern player had in more than five decades so it was only natural fans would let him hear it. They serenaded him with "MVP! MVP!" chants as he walked off the court.
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Dererk Pardon dominated on the glass in a way no Northwestern player had in more than five decades so it was only natural fans would let him hear it.
They serenaded him with "MVP! MVP!" chants as he walked off the court.
Pardon dominated with 19 points and a career-high 22 rebounds to lead Northwestern to a 73-61 victory over struggling Nebraska on Thursday night.
"It just feels great," he said. "You're on a high. You've got to ride that."
Pardon simply was on a different level. For that matter, so is Northwestern these days.
The program that hosted the first Final Four but has a grand total of zero NCAA appearances is in unfamiliar territory, threatening to make the tournament at long last. The Wildcats (17-4, 6-2 Big Ten) now have five straight wins, matching their longest streak in conference play since the 1965-66 season.
That same year, Jim Pitts had games of 26 and 22 rebounds against Indiana and Ohio State. No Wildcats player dominated on the glass like that until Pardon on Thursday.
The sophomore turned in the first 20-rebound game for Northwestern since Evan Eschmeyer grabbed 21 against Penn State on Jan. 20, 1999.
Vic Law scored 20 points, and the Wildcats went on a big run late in the game to seal the victory.
Tai Webster led Nebraska with 23 points. Glynn Watson Jr. scored 14, but the Cornhuskers (9-11, 3-5) dropped their fifth in a row after a 3-0 start in the Big Ten.
"Every time we made a big run, we gave up an offensive rebound or something little, and that affected us in the long run," Watson said.
It didn't help that leading rebounder Ed Morrow Jr. missed his fourth straight game with a right foot injury. Pardon certainly took advantage.
Even so, it was 57-53 with about five minutes remaining. Law hit two free throws, and in a flash, Northwestern went on a 16-1 run to put this one away.
Bryant McIntosh stole a pass that hit Nebraska's Evan Taylor and fed Law for an alley-oop. Cornhuskers coach Tim Miles picked up a technical after pointing to a spot where he thought Pardon stepped out of bounds after grabbing a defensive rebound. That led to two free throws for McIntosh, making it 63-53 with 4:12 remaining.
Northwestern continued to pour it on with Sanjay Lumpkin nailing a 3 and Law getting fouled on a rebound dunk for a 3-point play with 1:17 left, making it 73-54. Pardon then exited to hugs from his teammates and "MVP! MVP!" chants.
But it was loud all night. And Miles acknowledged the noise made an impact.
"It's amazing from earlier in my tenure to what it is now," he said. "The student body is calling me all kinds of new names. It's an excellent atmosphere. With the noise level, we're going to have to look at some different signals and things like that. We don't do that in other places. There are other bigger gyms with huge crowds that you don't do that with. You do it here."
Northwestern coach Chris Collins said Scottie Lindsey played through back spasms, which probably explains why he finished with five points. The Big Ten's seventh-leading scorer, he reached double figures in the first 20 games.
Nebraska: After four straight single-digit losses, the Cornhuskers stayed in this one until the closing minutes. But it was a familiar result.
Northwestern: Winning five in a row in Big Ten play is a big deal for the Wildcats. Just ask Law.
"It means that this is a different Northwestern," he said. "Our goal is just to be different. I've always been saying this is a different Northwestern team. This is a new Northwestern."
Nebraska: Hosts Purdue on Sunday.
Northwestern: Hosts Indiana on Sunday.
Follow Andrew Seligman on Twitter @aseligmanap