Three Thoughts - Northwestern vs. Georgia Tech

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 11: Guard Alex Marcotullio #4 of the Northwestern Wildcats drives with the ball against the Indiana Hoosiers during the first round of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

You can read the extended version of my thoughts from the game by going back over the live-blog that is below this. It was a good time and I'm sure I'll be doing more of them this season. If you read it thanks!

A 91-71 victory is pretty impressive, even against a team picked to finish 9th in the ACC. The Wildcats could've made this close, but instead Northwestern pounded Georgia Tech in the first half and was able to coast to victory.
Here are some thoughts I took away from the game.

1. You can't play offense better than that. -- In the first half Northwestern scored 55 points on 33 possessions. Wait, let that sink in. That's 1.67 points per possession. You don't need me to tell you that's ridiculous. The Wildcats had 15 assists on 22 baskets (68 percent) and turned the ball over four times. They missed seven shots total in the half, and just two three-pointers. That is the height of offensive efficiency. 

Luka Mirkovic has played some bad halves this season, and I've been tough on him, but he played a great first half. He was 4-of-4 from the field, scored eight points and had five assists. The only blemish was one missed free throw. There was a few minute stretch where John Shurna got into the zone and when he does that no one is stopping him. Even Alex Marcotullio got into the act in a big way with 10 points on four shots.
The scary thing is that this could be repeatable. Nothing Northwestern did against Georgia Tech was unprecedented. This team is full of great shooters. If a couple are having a good night at the same time this is what happens.
2. With all these shooters, what happened to the free throws? -- Northwestern shot 10-of-12 from three-point range in the first half and 12-of-19 for the game (63.2 percent), but the Wildcats hit 17-of-30 free throws (56.7 percent). The three-point shots are supposed to be harder - what with people theoretically guarding you and all. So what happened with the free throws? If this game was closer it would've played a big factor. 
At one point Mirkovic threw up his hands in celebration after making two free throws, essentially mocking himself for his woes at the line. He finished 3-of-7 from the charity stripe. Shurna shot the technical foul shots against Paul Hewitt and still ended up 3-of-6 from the line. The only player that attempted a free throw and didn't miss one was Jeff Ryan. He made two.
3. The young guns stepped up. -- Everyone knows about Shurna and Thompson, they even have a catchy nickname, but other players stepped up tonight. Drew Crawford scored 19 points, Marcotullio chipped in 13 and JerShon Cobb scored 10 points on his 19th birthday. 
Cobb in particular seemed much more comfortable and aggressive during this game. He played 21 minutes and they were all very productive. Maybe he's finally healthy, maybe it was because he knew half of the other team - since he's from Georgia and all - or maybe it's something else, but the Wildcats could use more nights like this from their younger guys.

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  • John, nice job with the liveblog last night. I would have participated but I am a season ticket holder so I was actually at the game.

    I am actually one of the people that you chided for leaving early. Unfortunately I need to take the Metra back home (CTA can take 1.5 hours or more while Metra can take 30 min. or less). The Metra inbound gets to Central at 7:57 and then the next one isn't until 8:57. So if the game is a blowout (NU was up 21 I think when we left), I don't really want to end up losing over an hour of my time just to see the last few minutes of a beatdown.. Lame, I know - I just wish the Metra schedule worked out better for the basketball games. Oh well.

    Anyway, great job - I'll see if next time I can follow along on my blackberry or something. Are you in press row down at courtside, or up in the 200 level? We are in section 206 usually.

  • Thanks for pointing that out. I had no idea. That is lame though. Living in Rogers Park I don't really use the Metra too much, but I know how quickly it can get someone downtown. It makes sense though. Appreciate the insight.

    When I'm not taking photos I sit up on the 200 level, usually in the first row. Stop by and say hi!

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