Another Wildcat freshman who stepped up was John Shurna. His ability knock down two early threes set an early tone of competiveness for NU. If Shurna regains his shooting stroke, he will provide NU another serious offensive threat. Speaking of offensive threats, Jeremy Nash played another solid all around game and ended up NU’s second leading scorer with 9 points. He hit 1-of-2 threes and made an unbelievable circus layup late in the game to help sustain the Wildcat lead. Nash’s play was critical as Wisconsin played lockdown defense on Kevin Coble holding him to only 7 points on 3-of-9 shooting. Luka Mirkovic also added seven and a late hook shot which, like Nash’s layup, was critical to holding the lead. Mirkovic also grabbed three rebounds which, for better or worse, made him NU’s leader.
Overall, Wisconsin had a 27-16 rebound edge, but Northwestern won the turnover battle by forcing 13 compared to only 8 forced by Wisconsin. 13 TO’s aren’t a ton, but NU’s defense was solid. The Wildcats employed not only their 1-3-1, but also a matchup zone and a fantastic switching man-to-man. It was evident these switching defenses caused Wisconsin trouble in the second half.
Another area which I firmly believed caused Wisconsin trouble was the boisterous Northwestern student section. They played a strong role in helping out shout the invaders from the north and making Welsh-Ryan more of a home court for NU. Now, we need to convince the students to show up every game—this team needs them. Wednesday against Chicago State is a great example. Just because it’s not a well known team, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about how YOUR team plays.