Northwestern 90, NC A&T 65: wait they really attempted 47 threes?

Yes, Northwestern really attempted 47 three pointers in their blowout win over North Carolina A&T, making 20 of them to shatter the previous school record of 15 made and setting a Big Ten record. 12 of the makes came in the first half, as the 'Cats took a 50-37 lead into the locker room. Carmody said at halftime that he was upset with his team's defensive effort, and his players listened to him and shut down the Aggies to start the second half, allowing just 5 points in the first 10 minutes and letting NU open up a 30 point lead, a run capped off by a highlight reel alley-oop from Juice Thompson to Jeremy Nash.

Drew Crawford led the way with 13 3 point attempts, making 8 of them and finishing with a career high 35 points. I believe that's the highest point total for a Northwestern player since Kevin Coble had 37 against Indiana. Crawford was outstanding, mainly from behind the arc, but he had a couple of strong drives to the basket, highlighted by a circus reverse lay up in the first half. Thompson added 19 points and a season high 8 assists, making 5 for 11 from 3 point range. Nash once again filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals, and Alex Marcotullio had 11 points off the bench. John Shurna really struggled on offense, scoring just 6 points and going 0 for 7 from the line, but he did have 10 rebounds.

The story of the game though was the ridiculous number of threes attempted by Northwestern, as 47 of their 63 field goal attempts were from behind the line. Of those 47 threes, I'd say at most only 6 of 7 were forced; NC A&T just played very bad defense and didn't close out on perimeter shooters. On one play early in the second half, they didn't have anyone near Crawford in the corner when NU was inbounding from underneath the basket, this when Crawford already had 28 points in the game. He made the shot, and a minute later he was inexplicably wide open in the exact same spot on the same inbounds situation. It wasn't like Carmody ran a play for him, he was just standing alone in the corner. If I were the coach for NC A&T, I'd have called a timeout and gone crazy on my team, just terrible defense. NC A&T's defensive game plan seemed to be to not allow backdoor cuts, which they did successfully, the problem was they didn't go anywhere near perimeter shooters. Credit has to go to Northwestern for taking what the defense gave them and not trying to force it inside, instead riding the hot hand from the perimeter. In future games, opponents will be wary of the outside shooting and crowd the perimeter, hopefully opening up the middle for backdoor cuts and easy lay-ups.

The only pieces of bad news from today came from the centers, as Davide Curletti hurt his foot in practice and did not play. Apparently it isn't serious and he's expected back for Saturday's game against Stanford, which is good as NU will need him in Big Ten play, as once again Kyle Rowley couldn't get out of his own way, fouling out in 8 minutes and turning the ball over twice. Luka Mirkovic got most of the minutes at center and did what NU's centers should do, not look to score but instead focus on defense, rebounding and setting up teammates out of the high post. He had just 3 points in 29 minutes, but did manage 8 rebounds and 3 assists, and he blocked 1 shot and altered several more on the defensive end. And thankfully he didn't travel in the low post once.

Was nice to see an easy win for Northwestern against a weak opponent, hopefully they can keep it up Wednesday night against North Florida, and it would even nicer if Crawford can continue to be a force on offense. He's now had 2 big games against weak competition, but he's yet to show he can score against BCS conference teams. This team will be very difficult to defend in Big Ten play if he can play like he did today.