Northwestern did play as hard vs Indiana as they did vs Illinois. As a result they had a chance to win the game in the second half but they simply didn't shoot ball well enough to finish their comeback. Perhaps, the problem was they didn't shoot well enough in the first half so they were such a hole that a come back was too hard to accomplish. NU won the second half by 6 points, but being in a 14 point hole at the break was too much to overcome. The reason for that hole was NU's 1-of-10 three point shooting in the first half. The majority of those looks were good and if NU had made just half of them the game would have been totally different, but they didn't so it wasn't. I just don't think this is a good shooting team. I think the reason Coach Bill Carmody keeps trying to play Kale Abrahamson is that he thinks he might be able to have a hot shooting game, but right now Kale struggles to get open looks against the physical Big Ten defense he faces each night.
Aside from the poor three point shooting in the first half, NU also missed too many free throws. Most of those misses belonged to Dave Sobolewski. I don't understand how NU's 6-1 point guard is a worse free throw shooter than Indiana's 7-0 center, but that's the case. It's somewhat embarrassing and it's cost NU on several occasions. If Sobolewski doesn't become a better free throw shooter I wouldn't be shocked to see his playing time reduced next season if Jaren Sina lives up to the hype surrounding him.
On the positive side, I thought NU's defense both in man-to-man and the 1-3-1 was very good. The Wildcats communicated and hustled and did what they needed to in order to slow down the fast paced IU attack. I even thought NU rebounded decently well. I mean one had to assume Indiana would win the battle on the glass, but they didn't dominate that area of the game enough that I felt it was a major factor.
Overall, I thought that NU was well prepared for this game. Coach Carmody put together a solid game plan and NU could have been in the game from start to finish but for the poor shooting early. The second half which Jared Swopshire had needs to be how he plays every minute of every game. Reggie Hearn had another great game and is clearly feeling better and it shows both on defense and offense. I loved the fact that at least Reggie made his free throws. I do think NU needs to find a way to get some offensive production from the center position. Those guys have chances to take shots, but clearly don't have the confidence to take or make them. A center who could hit a jump shot would be a tremendous help for the Wildcats.
Northwestern has a tough game coming up with Minnesota, but they then face Nebraska and Purdue who aren't that much better than they are. If they can somehow win two of those three games there might be a chance of NU still sneaking into some sort of postseason tournament.