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Collins would like a fast end to slow starts after Northwestern loss

Chris Collins was emotionally disciplined enough not to make any rash decisions Wednesday night. But the Northwestern coach was frustrated enough with the slow starts to say that personnel changes were possible.

The Wildcats lost 66-58 to visiting Georgia Tech (6-1), which gives no indication of what has really ailed the team.

After starting the game down 20-2, Northwestern (5-2) was able to rally to bring the game to within one late in the second half. But it was the team’s early play — which has hamstrung Northwestern through most of its seven games — that had its coach contemplating change.

“Right now, it’s too emotional,” Collins said. “You’re right after the game. But there’s no question starts of the games are something that we have to get better at and I’m not sure if it means personnel. But it might.”

Northwestern plays five freshmen and starts two in Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh. So the team is going to have off nights as Collins’ first recruiting class develops. He has acknowledged as much.

But the coach was still beleaguered by his team’s poor shooting, particularly in the first half. The Wildcats shot 17.4 percent from three-point range, hitting only 1 of 12 in the first half.

Many of those were open shots.

Even as the Wildcats struggled to shoot, they lacked aggressiveness in the first half, only coming alive after they found themselves in a deep hole.

Shoot poorly and what’s a team to do? Conventional wisdom says to take it to the basket, draw some fouls, can into the bonus and climb back from the free-throw line.

Northwestern, though, failed to get to the bonus in the first half. It was not a coincidence that the team’s second-half rally came as a result of aggressive inside play.

“They absolutely hit us in the mouth,” sophomore forward Sanjay Lumpkin said. “My feeling is we would have won the game if we started better. We can’t be down in a big hole like that and that’s something we’re going to get better.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen