UIC Burns Northwestern for Second Straight Defeat

Photo by Paul Beaty/AP

If there is one thing Northwestern has virtually always been able to do, even during the dark days under Bill Carmody, it was shoot the basketball. The Princeton offense created opportunities and drove defenses crazy with the constant movement. It kept the Wildcats in many games.

For the second straight game, with expectations continuing to bear down on the program and the pressure to perform way down the line in March in everyone’s minds, the offense struggled to deliver and keep up. It is one thing if that happens against a Maryland team with a lottery pick in 7-foot-2 center Alex Len. Josh Crittle is not on any NBA radars, at times he looked as effective as Len did Tuesday.

It was Crittle who collected an offensive rebound and score the go-ahead put back with 50 seconds. It was Crittle who challenged Reggie Hearn’s put back on the next possession, forcing NU to foul and send UIC to the line to ice the game. The Flames did that while the Wildcats were left floundering around on offense wondering what just happened.

The Wildcats lost their second consecutive home game in a shocking 50-44 loss to the Flames at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Saturday.

Score Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
UIC 50 83.1 32.7 35.5 14.1 25.5
Northwestern 44 72.4 40.5 23.1 24.0 47.6

UIC played hard and without fear and earned the upset against Northwestern. Hats off to them.

The Wildcats too played hard, but failed to execute and finish. The six-point margin of defeat was the largest margin in the game as both teams went neck and neck. It seemed like all second half, the Wildcats were waiting for the flip to switch and to take over. There were times when Drew Crawford looked like he was about to go off. He scored a few points early in the second half and hit back-to-back 3-pointers late that seemed like it might propel Northwestern ahead in the end. Crawford scored 18 points, but hardly broke out of his funk shooting 6 for 14 from the floor, although his second half should help him regain confidence.

Reggie Hearn and Dave Sobolewski were all over the place on offense trying to keep Northwestern in the game. Maybe one of them would take over.

Hearn though shot only 4 of 9 from the foul line and Sobolewski missed both of his free throws, leading the way on a disappointing 10 for 20 night at the foul line. For a team that prides itself on shooting the ball well and having many shooters, this was simply unacceptable. Particularly in a tight game. Northwestern missed five free throws in the front end of 1-and-1s, leaving points on the board the team could not afford to lose. Particularly with UIC making all 14 of its free throws.

Further complicating matters was NU turning the ball over 16 times. The lack of turnovers is another point of pride for the Wildcats. And so a game like this was completely out of character.

Credit UIC’s defense some. The Flames did a great job crowding the paint and hedging on back door cuts. The Wildcats tried to force some of those passes, committing eight first half turnovers. But some of those turnovers were just unforced. NU was shooting itself in the foot a lot and it kept the team from establishing the offensive flow and rhythm the offense needs.

The Wildcats shot only 35.7 percent from the floor and 4 of 15 from long range. There was very little offensive rhythm and the Cats could not find the hot hand or Crawford when they really needed their star to take over.

With all the other problems the team has, NU could not overcome it, even against an opponent of UIC’s pedigree (and perhaps UIC will win the Horizon this year). Either way, it was not encouraging to see NU struggle with many of the same problems that led to a loss to Maryland and, partly, led to offensive struggles against Illinois State.

Further, UIC had 11 offensive rebounds including five from Crittle who was a workhorse on the glass and did a good job muscling up against Alex Olah on defense too.

Patterns are being developed and this might not be a “just one game” thing anymore. Whatever the issues of confidence or offense are, Northwestern needs to solve them fast with Baylor and Butler upcoming on the schedule.

  • VACat

    Here we go again….

    When is everyone going to own up and admit Carmody can’t get us there.

    I’m not surprised…..

    They’ll never beat Baylor and Butler. Good luck with that!

  • HollywoodCat

    Free throw shooting was ATROCIOUS. up three near halftime, we missed two 1 and 1′s and could’ve gone up 7 if we made free throws. very frustrating loss and I fear for a huge blowout against Baylor as they just beat Kentucky today AT Rupp Arena… NU Basketball- like the ex-girlfriend I keep going back to, hoping that it will be different this time around…

  • cs93

    This is a bad loss. UIC is improved after a couple of dreadful seasons but they are hardly a threatening mid-major squad. I didn’t see the game but the stat line looks like we had the same problems that plagued us against Maryland—bad 3-point shooting and horrific rebounding—with the added problem of missing half of our free throws. But the rebounding problem is most disturbing. We’re supposed to be bigger this year. Getting outrebounded by a smaller mid-major team is inexcusable. It’s the same old story but we don’t have a go-to guy and a killer shooter this year a la John Shurna, Craig Moore, or Kevin Coble. The upcoming game against Baylor could get ugly. And the Big Ten is LOADED this year. This could be a long and dreadful basketball season.

  • virginiacats

    yeah i agree, this season appears we go maybe 15 wins or so, miss every tourny. no shurna, no crawford next year. I think it might be time for a change

  • cebpd

    What does ANYONE expect? It’s Carmody, he’s been around forever, and we know what we’re going to get…an offense that possesses the ball, and when its working, its fun to watch. When the shots don’t go down: live by the 3, die by the 3.

    Defensive rebounding has been awful for years. Why do we think this team will be any different?

    Carmody should have been gone a long time ago. he can field a relatively good team and he has improved, but unfortunately, he cannot get the team to “break through”. now that also involves getting NU better in other aspects as well to compete with better schools for recurits but in the mean time i think that it is important to realize that Carmody needs to be gone.

    It’s a shame we realize this 8 games into the season.

    Baylor will be a massacre.

  • CatPerspectives

    Anyone who has a clue has been calling for Carmody to be fired for years. Unsurprisingly terrible. At least we don’t have to listen to the bubble BS this year. Get ready for a long, long season. AND FINALLY A NEW COACH.

    • lolfactory

      not going to be a new coach. same shit different year.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeCNC Joe Lucia

    Painful, painful loss. This team could conceivably be 8-5 OOC before heading into B1G play….that’s really, really not good. And to further kick us below the belt, Illinois State couldn’t hang on to beat Louisville…that at least would have helped out the ol RPI a little more. Sigh.

  • Stephen Zgrabik

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1429231-college-football-bowl-picture-2012-13-10-non-bcs-matchups-fans-are-dying-to-see/page/7

    “But instead, we’ll get to see the talented Wildcats go up against one of the better teams from the SEC, South Carolina. This game should be a back-and-forth contest with Northwestern being able to hold onto a fourth-quarter lead to preserve a victory.”

    Crazy to see someone picking us to win before the games are even announced.

    • royko

      Even more crazy to see them picking us to hold a 4th quarter lead. ;)

      • Stephen Zgrabik

        touche. its gotta happen sometime!

  • JP

    I won’t attend another game until Carmody is gone. I listened to his post game interview in the car after the Maryland game and was taken aback by the way he ripped into his senior leadership, as though the poor performance had nothing to do with him. I hate coaches that do that.

  • CM

    It’s BOWL GAME MADNESS!!! With all of these different scenarios, rumors, and stipulations coming into play with this Wisconsin BEATEMDOWN, I feel like the National Championship and the Motor City could still be in play for NU. Looks like Orlando or Jacksonville…bye bye Tampa :(

    • Stephen Zgrabik

      Yeah. I’m thinking with Neb losing so terribly, we may go Cap One.

    • cece

      seriously, what the heck!?! think it looks like Jacksonville.

      • CM

        Media outlets think NU vs TAMU in Orlando. We’ll see how that holds up tomorrow…

        • Catatonic Joe

          think they would want NU to play A&M two years in a row? I would be surprised at that

          • CM

            Feeling is that a rematch of last year’s bowl game is more appealing than a repeat trip for Nebraska to Orlando. Personally I agree but we shall see…

  • Nate

    Not gonna mourn over an embarrassing home loss today, no, not with a possible Capital One Bowl berth against a formidable opponent on the brink of coming to fruition. It appears I’ll have plenty of time to sit through what might be an agonizing bball campaign…sigh.

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