A great defensive effort, against an admittedly overmatched TCU, resulted in a 55-31 win for Northwestern in the semi-finals of the South Padre Island Invitational. Holding TCU to 26.5% shooting overall and 0-for-6 from three is something I think Northwestern should be proud of regardless of TCU’s weaknesses on offense. It is hard to assess exactly what the defense was like since the live video stream was so poor it was unwatchable, but the radio broadcast’s color analyst, former NU star Jitim Young, repeatedly praised the defense of the Wildcats and I’ll take his word for it and say nice work to the ‘Cats on defense. The 31 points allowed were the least in 12 years, so that’s something worth noting as well.
On offense NU kind of struggled shooting just 38.3% overall and 31% from three point range. Drew Crawford continues to lack the consistency we really want from him posting a 4-of-13 night shooting and going 0-for-4 from three point range. On the positive side Drew did pull in six rebounds and make all four of his free throws. Plus, on the crappy video stream I did see him throw down on a monster dunk which was pretty cool. On a more serious note, the other positive is that Drew can catch fire at any time. I hope tomorrow is that day as Illinois State is very good.
NU will need more points to beat ISU tomorrow and that’ll start with Crawford, Jared Swopshire, who was the ‘Cats leading scorer tonight with 15 points, and Reggie Hearn who posted 12 points today and has been the ‘Cats best overall scorer this season.
ISU is a team which also holds a 5-0 mark on the season. The team is lead by 6-9 senior forward Jackie Carmichael. Carmichael had 11 points and five rebounds in the Redbirds win over UAB this afternoon. His physical presence will be a challenge for NU freshmen Mike Turner and Alex Olah who combined tonight for a solid 9 rebounds, but also were just 1-of-3 shooting and had 5 total turnovers. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Cheir Ajou even get a shot tomorrow in limited time just to give ISU a different look. Going into this game the ‘Cats are really missing Nikola Cerina.
The other guy to watch out for in tomorrow’s game is Bryant Allen who scored 30 points for the Redbirds in this afternoon’s game. A former Minnesota football player, Allen is another example of the physical type players ISU will run out on the court. Despite being a Missouri Valley team, I think ISU will feel like playing a Big Ten team. That’s a good thing for the young Wildcats. The trouble is at this point I’m not sure NU is ready for that type of challenge. ISU is a more complete team and as a result my prediction is ISU by two.