EVANSTON, Ill. -- Vic Law had a career-high 18 points, Scottie Lindsey added 17 and Northwestern opened its fourth season under coach Chris Collins with a 94-63 rout of Mississippi Valley State on Friday night.
For Law, it was a triumphant return after all of last season following shoulder surgery. He played in all 32 games (19 starts) as a freshman two years ago.
"It gave me a new appreciation for the game," Law said. "Last year ... when we lost a tough one, I would think about what I could have done to make a difference."
Sanjay Lumpkin, Bryant McIntosh and Isiah Brown had 11 points apiece as the Wildcats won their ninth straight season opener. McIntosh, the team's leading returning scorer, was just 1 for 6 on 3-pointers.
Law made 7 of 10 from the field -- including 3 of 4 on 3-pointers -- but was just 1 for 7 from the free-throw line.
Marcus Romain led Mississippi Valley State with 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
"I didn't like the way we played defense at the start of the game," MVSU coach Andre Payne said. "We got after it a little better in the second half, but that start set us back."
Northwestern grabbed a double-digit lead 6 1/2 minutes into the game and never looked back. The lead was 46-28 at halftime and MVS never threatened in the second half.
"That first game of the season is very difficult from an emotional standpoint," Collins said. "For us to come out and play the way we did early, I was very impressed."
Mississippi Valley State: The Delta Devils were 8-27 last season -- including a 6-12 mark in the SWAC -- and another long campaign seems likely. Romain, the second-leading scorer in the SWAC last season at 18.6 points, is a bright spot.
Northwestern: Coming off a school-record 20 wins last season, the Wildcats begin with the goal of reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. To do so, they'll have to replace the leadership and production of Tre Demps, the leading-scorer last season at 15.7 points.
THROW IT DOWN
Law announced his return with a steal in the backcourt and a flying dunk a few minutes into the game.
"I felt relief -- that's the emotion I felt," he said. "It energized me for the rest of the game."
Brown, the heralded freshman from Seattle, was much better in the second half after playing just five first-half minutes from picking up two fouls. He'll be counted on as a spark off the bench to fill some of the void left by the departure of Demps.
"He's the kind of guy that can change a game," Collins said of Brown. "I think he was a real find for us."
Mississippi Valley State takes on a bigger challenge when it visits No. 20 West Virginia on Monday, the second of four road games to start the season.
Northwestern has another tune-up game of sorts when it hosts Eastern Washington on Monday. EWU opened with a 70-47 win over Division III Linfield..