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Penn State 79, Northwestern 60

Northwestern was awful throughout today, and got run out of the gym by Penn State, losing to the NIttany Lions for the 2nd time this season. In the first half, the 'Cats were absolutely terrible on defense, allowing 49 points on 68% Penn State shooting. Bill Carmody came out in the match-up zone, but it was so awful he eventually switched to the 1-3-1, which was just as ineffective. NU was down 14 at the half, and would have been much worse had they not hit 8 of 14 threes. 

As ugly as the first half was, I expected Northwestern to show a little bit of heart and at least make things interesting. Instead, they lay down like dogs and allowed Penn State to break the game open. Other than Michael Thompson, who was the only Wildcat starter to show up, it took until less than 4 minutes remained before someone other than Juice made a field goal in the 2nd half. Thompson finished with 21 points, but got zero help from the rest of the starting 5. John Shurna had 9 points on 2 of 11 shooting, Jeremy Nash had just 8 points, and Drew Crawford was benched for long stretches for his continued poor defensive effort and ill-advised shot selection. Luka Mirkovic was just awful, as he was held scoreless. Davide Curletti got a lot of minutes at center, and while he had a decent stat line of 6 points and 4 rebounds, he was overmatched inside on both ends and clearly isn't ready to play in the Big Ten. 

On the bright side, at least he was playing hard, which can't be said for most of his teammates in the second half. There was no flow on offense; guys were just chucking the ball up there at the first opportunity. Despite solid 3-point shooting (12 for 28), Northwestern finished the game at just 32% overall, thanks to god awful 5 for 25 shooting on twos. Much of the time it was embarrassing to watch, the 'Cats just looked hopelessly overmatched. And on defense, they let Penn State get whatever shot they wanted. The Lions finished up at 57% shooting, and it would have been higher had they tried for 40 minutes; in the last 7 minutes or so they started goofing around going for alley-oops and eventually emptied the bench. 

As for Bill Carmody, he has to get a lot of blame for his team's terrible defensive performance. I also would have liked to see him use a timeout at some point to stem the tide, but he never did. And while it probably wouldn't have mattered, early in the second half when the game was still within reach, he went to a lineup of Thompson, Shurna, Curletti, Nick Fruendt, Mike Capocci. The chances of that five-some making up a 15 point deficit are probably less than zero. In his defense, Crawford was playing selfishly on offense and lazily on defense, and Mirkovic was really struggling, but still, Fruendt? 

Not much more to say about this debacle, let's just burn the tape and move on.