Whew. That game was close from start to finish. Neither team led by more than 6 at any point, but Northwestern once again pulled it out at the end. These two close wins have got to be huge confidence builders for the 'Cats, who have been poised down the stretch (even though they missed a few free throws today) and made plays on both offense and defense to seal the deal.
The hero today was Drew Crawford, who was everywhere, making 5-8 from 3, driving and kicking, and making short jumpers. He still takes some bad shots, but I don't actually mind because he needs to be a big part of this team's offense. Carmody himself said he wants Drew to play "loosey-goosey", which I think Drew did tonight. He also grabbed a few rebounds and played some pretty good D. Shurna had an off shooting night and had a quiet (for him) 15, but made a huge and-1 with a minute and a half to go to put NU up by 5.
We were badly outrebounded, 36-20. Shurna led us with 6, but Mirk and Curletti only combined for two. The centers have been getting a lot of flak from the fans lately. These past two games these bigs from LSU and Tulsa have been bigger and stronger and have outplayed them. However, I actually think both Mirkovic and Curletti (especially Curletti) played better today than yesterday and had some success with slowing down Tulsa's big men. The damage could have been a lot worse. Anyway, I believe in those two and think they'll both have strong games this year, especially against some of the less dominant centers in the B1G.
We won this game because we were able to force 15 turnovers (9 steals) while we only turned it over 6 times, which made up somewhat for the bad rebounding and enabled us to take 9 more shots from the field than Tulsa. The ability to force turnovers that we've shown through three games is something that makes me hopeful, though the trend may be tough to continue in the Big Ten given how disciplined Big Ten teams tend to be with the ball.
A few notes on other players: Marco only played 10 minutes -- I wonder if he's still somewhat injured or if Carmody simply went with other players. Jershon was crafty in his 16 minutes today, picking up 2 assists and 3 steals and getting to the foul line. Sobolewski once again was solid, with 9 points, 3 assists and 0 turnovers.
Northwestern will be playing the winner of tonight's Seton Hall/St. Joseph's game on Sunday in the Charleston Classic Championship game. Great win and go 'Cats!