EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) - A.J. Turner had to sit out a season after transferring from Boston College to Northwestern in 2017. On Friday night, he showed he was the player Northwestern expected him to be.
Turner and Vic Law combined to score 27 points to lead Northwestern to its third win this season, 82-54 win over Binghamton at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Friday night.
"A lot of time with transfers, it takes them a little time because they've been sitting a whole year," Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. "Every game he's playing, he's getting more comfortable and doing a really good job."
Turner made all five of his free throws and scored 13 for the Wildcats (3-0).
"You wouldn't think so, but taking a year off from the game and coming back, there's stuff you have to pick up. You lose it when you don't play in the game," Turner said.
Law had 14 points despite playing only 22 minutes. He added five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. He has ranked among Northwestern's top two scorers in all three games. A surgery in the offseason corrected a lung problem, and the difference in his game is clear.
"I'm not surprised by it. That's how Vic's been all summer and fall. He's gearing up because he knows this is his last go-around," Collins said. "We're in our new building, we've got a bunch of new guys, and he knows there's a lot on his plate, to be our leader night in and night out."
Northwestern started strong, getting out to a 9-0 lead. Turner showed off fancy moves in the first half, including a smooth finger roll that also earned him a trip to the free-throw line when he was fouled. Even when Turner missed, he created scoring opportunities. In the first half, Turner shook off a defender, missed what should have been an easy layup, and Barrett Benson was there for the putback.
Everyone played a part in Northwestern's rout. Highly touted freshman Pete Nance scored 10 points off the bench. After notching a double-double on Monday night, Derek Pardon scored 10 points with nine rebounds. Benson had career highs of 12 points and 14 rebounds for the first double-double of his career.
"It's almost been like every night, it's a different guy. Tonight it was Barrett and Pete. Those guys came in and gave great minutes. Last game it was (Ryan) Greer. I think it's going to be like that, night to night. Can we find the right group that's playing well?" Collins said.
J.C. Show led Binghamton (1-3) with 15 points. It's the Bearcats' first game since head coach Tommy Dempsey signed a two-year contract extension earlier this week. Top returning rebounder Thomas Bruce is still not able to play after suffering a concussion in September. The Bearcats miss him. Northwestern outrebounded Binghamton 46-30.
STAT OF THE NIGHT:
Northwestern held Binghamton to 22-percent shooting from the field in the first half, including 1 of 12 from the 3-point line. While the Bearcats' shooting improved in the second half, they still only managed two 3-pointers in eight tries after intermission.
The new Welsh-Ryan Arena hosted ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" before the game. Binghamton alumnus Tony Kornheiser hosted the show with Michael Wilbon, a Northwestern alumnus. The two stuck around to call the game for ESPNews.
Binghamton: Playing without Bruce will continue to cause problems as the Bearcats head into a tough nonconference schedule. Notre Dame and No. 18 Michigan are both on the docket before starting play in the America East.
Northwestern: Head coach Chris Collins said after the season-opening win that defense will be the team's calling card, and his Wildcats showed it again on Friday night. Northwestern has held opponents to 52.33 points so far this season.
Binghamton: Visits Colgate on Monday
Northwestern: Plays Fresno State in Fullerton, Calif., on Thursday in the Wooden Legacy Tournament