When I came out to Northern Illinois on Tuesday to talk with senior guards Xavier Silas and Michael Patton, they were eager to discuss how much harder the Huskies were playing on defense.
It’s fair to say NIU played with more energy and ferocity on Friday night, but it wasn’t a fair fight against Northwestern.
Because coach Ricardo Patton didn’t want his guys having to deal with all the Princeton cuts, etc., he had his Huskies primarily stick with a zone defense.
Northwestern missed 13 of its first 14 shots as NIU built a 13-5 lead, but the Wildcats went wild from there.
NU hit 34 of its last 56 shots (61 percent) to finish with 97 points. That’s the most since March 12, 2004, in an overtime win against No. 8 Michigan.
The Wildcats were well on their way to their first 100-point game since March 6, 1993, but they scored “only” 14 points in the last 8:10.
John Shurna scored his career-high-tying 31 points in 34 minutes. His 7-for-10 shooting on 3s paced a collective 15-of-33 effort.
The 15 3s would have ranked as the third-highest effort last season while the 33 attempts would have ranked fifth.
--A Northwestern assistant said after the game that Shurna goes off on a shooting spree like that about once every three practices. Threw in the name Larry Bird to try to explain how impressive it is.
--Freshman JerShon Cobb didn’t play due to a left hip flexor that kept him out of practice almost all week. Bill Carmody said he hopes Cobb will be able to play Wednesday at Texas-Pan American.
--With Cobb unavailable, fifth-year senior Jeff Ryan provided a potent 14-minute stint. NU coaches love the way he facilitates the offense and he contributed 5 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
If they gave hockey assists, where each of the last two guys to pass the ball before the basket are credited, then Ryan would have had several more assists in my guessestimation.
--NIU only got 3 minutes out of incumbent power forward Lee Fisher, who has been laid up with a bad ankle since the second day of practice.
In his stead, junior-college transfer Tim Toler (12 points, 3 rebounds in 26 minutes) and powerful freshman Nate Rucker (11 points, 6 rebounds in 30 minutes) performed well. Rucker made all 4 of his shots as he showed a nice lefty jump hook.
Junior-college transfer Cameron Madlock played just 14 minutes as he was slowed by the leg injury suffered in the Coe College exhibition on Saturday.
--Northwestern started in its matchup zone, but had to go to its 1-3-1 zone trap after the first media timeout.
That decision changed the game as NIU committed 5 turnovers in a 7-possession stretch that turned a 13-5 NIU lead into a 19-16 NU lead.
Alex Marcotullio, who tipped a pass to Drew Crawford for a breakaway dunk to start that spree, and Jeff Ryan shared time at the top of the 1-3-1.
That’s about it from the Convo. Lot more football and basketball to see tomorrow.
Remember, if you’re headed to Northwestern, it’s a sellout crowd and you best get there early to miss the most congested pregame scene in at least two years.