When you play high school basketball in Rhode Island like I did, you get some reality checks. Considering the hockey crazy state always trumped basketball, there were many nights around this time of year we played in front of a smattering of fans. Well, tonight, that would’ve seemed like a packed house compared to the few folks who filled a couple of seats in the high school gym that served as host to the Northwestern-TCU semifinal game in the South Padre Invitational. The Wildcats let TCU dictate the slowdown tempo, yet, Northwestern raced out to a two touchdown lead and the Horned Frogs could not come back. Northwestern led at the half 24-14, marking the third time this season they’ve held an opponent to the football-ish mark in the first stanza.
Make no mistake about it, this was U-G-L-Y, but Bill Carmody will tell you any ‘Cats win is pretty, as will any coach. Jared Swopshire paved the way for the ‘Cats (5-0) with a perfect night at the FT line (5-5) as part of his team high 15 points. Jared continues to impress as he went 2-4 from 3-point land and his 50% FG night looked off the charts relative to TCU’s miserable 26.5% shooting. I’d love to give all the credit to the Wildcats D, but that wouldn’t be fair. Trent Johnson’s squad was clanking with regularity. Northwestern shot the lights out by comparison hitting just 38% from the field and an uncharacteristic 6/19 from 3-point land. The saving grace was NU went 13/14 from the charity stripe, while TCU stayed consistently miserable going just 5/12 from the line. The ‘Cats were wearing their road purple uniforms and facing a fellow a purple-clad “home” team, but the results of this game were very similar to the first four contests of the season in Welsh-Ryan. The game was never really in doubt.
Nikola Cerina’s severely sprained ankle probably seemed like a comforting thing compared to the thought of having stayed on this TCU team that I fear may not win many, if any, Big 12 games this season. Drew Crawford struggled once again (4/13 FG, 0/4 3 pt) but managed to chip in 12 points and create some good things on the boards and Reggie Hearn also added a dozen. Bill Carmody once again didn’t go too deep on his bench as only Mike Turner (19 minutes) and Alex Marcotullio (13 minutes) played double digit minutes off the bench. Turner struggled mightily with four turnovers and Alex posted a rare O-fer. Tre Demps did get 9 minutes of time and Kale Abrahamson made the most of his minutes hitting a three and finishing with five points. The great news is that Sanjay Lumpkin finally made his debut, albeit in garbage time, and he immediately made it to the line to hit a pair of free throws for his first collegiate points.
Northwestern held TCU to 31 total points, the lowest point total since 1982 when they held SIU Edwardsville to the same total (nod, NU Highlights). The ‘Cats will need to rest up as they now face an undefeated Illinois State team (5-0) that downed UAB 77-65 tonight. The Redbirds have demolished the pair of common opponents of the ‘Cats (Delaware State, Fairleigh Dickinson) and will be by far the toughest test of the season. Kudos to the ‘Cats for taking care of business, but tomorrow night we’ll start a week in which we’ll really get a sense for what we’ve got. Below is the complete Northwestern box score:
|Jared Swopshire, F||27||4-8||2-4||5-5||0||5||1||0||0||0||0||15|
|Drew Crawford, G-F||35||4-13||0-4||4-4||1||6||1||2||1||1||1||12|
|Reggie Hearn, G||30||4-8||2-4||2-3||0||3||2||1||1||0||3||12|
|Dave Sobolewski, G||33||3-6||1-2||0-0||0||1||4||2||0||1||1||7|
|Alex Marcotullio, G||13||0-2||0-2||0-0||0||2||2||0||0||0||1||0|
|Nikola Cerina, F||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Mike Turner, F||19||0-1||0-0||0-0||0||4||0||0||0||3||3||0|
|Tre Demps, G||9||0-2||0-1||0-0||0||0||1||0||0||0||2||0|
|James Montgomery, NA||2||0-1||0-1||0-0||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Omar Jimenez, G||3||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|