John Shurna bounced back from a poor shooting game Saturday, scoring 32 points on 9 of 12 three point shooting to lead Northwestern past Eastern Illinois. Luka Mirkovic also had his best game of the season, threatening a triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Of course, he's done this damage against teams with skinny 6'7" centers, but it's a start.
While the offense was operating at high efficiency, the NU defense left quite a bit to be desired, as Eastern Illinois' guards were able to penetrate with little resistance and set up teammates for open looks. This wasn't like the Central Connecticut State game, where NU played good defense but CCSU hit low-percentage shots: EIU got countless open mid-range jumpers. Bill Carmody switched to the 1-3-1 zone briefly late in the first half to great success, but he insisted on playing mostly man, probably realizing that the 1-3-1 won't work in Big Ten play so his team better get more game experience playing man.
Reggie Hearn reverted back to his previous year's form, going scoreless in 24 minutes and committing a few terrible turnovers. Even though he's a junior, I look at Hearn as a freshman given this is his first year of getting meaningful game experience, so such ups and downs are to be expected. Alex Marcotullio sat out again with his nagging toe injury, hopefully he will be ready to go soon. He did play briefly yesterday, so it seems like Carmody is just erring on the side of caution against weaker competition.
And with that, the guarantee games are over. Let's see if NU can steal a road win Thursday at Creighton.