Finals Week slowed my roll, which is fine in terms of basketball, because Northwestern also didn't play all week and won't until next Thursday.
We were all pretty pumped about NU when they were 7-0. I think we all agreed that Northwestern was playing well and that a win against No. 7 Baylor would be conviction that this was a very good team, and that even if NU lost, we shouldn't read too much into it, since Baylor was a very good team and the game was, from most perspective, a toss-up.
Then the game happened. Northwestern lost by 28, 69-41, and by any real indicator was not that close. Northwestern was getting doubled up for most of the game and dropped 20 slots from 34 to 54 in Kenpom's rankings on account of scoring 41 points on 63 possessions.
Let's take a second to think about what this all means after the jump.
1. Northwestern will never shoot that poorly again. I'm not saying Northwestern deserved to win - obviously, they didn't - but Northwestern got the looks they wanted all game and just bricked them. Brick after brick after brick. In the first half, NU did a decent job exploiting Baylor's zone to get open looks and got a lot of offensive boards. But the buckets just wouldn't fall. NU's starters hit 19-of-32 threes on Friday night against defense that, to be honest, wasn't considerably worse, then came out and shot 4-for-26 from three. Unreal.
2. John Shurna will probably never play that poorly ever again: I wrote that I think after NU played Michigan State last year, when Shurna was recovering from an ankle injury. But, yikes. Never have I seen his shot just so off. Ofer seven from downtown, 11 points on 19 shots. Disappointing in the game that probably had more NBA scouts than any game Shurna will play all season at it, considering he's a fringe prospect. Hope they watch tape.
3. This wasn't that as bad a game as it seemed defensively: Baylor scored 109.5 points per possession. Their season average? 109.1. NU forced a poor shooting team to take 18 threes - they made four.
4. That said, Baylor is really good and Northwestern was totally outmatched down low: Even if Northwestern played well, that front line was murdering Northwestern. Quincy Acy somehow only had six blocks - it seemed like he had significantly more - and about eight alley-oops against no opposition. NU did a good job on the offensive glass thanks to a lot of long rebounds, but I can't remember a more dominant frontcourt performance, well, ever.
5. Luka Mirkovic: I've always been a Luka guy, but for some reason, he's taken a drastic step backwards this season. He looked lost offensively - I've never seen someone turn the ball over on a play they had possession of the ball and didn't attempt to pass, dribble, or shoot, he just, kinda, well, dropped it, and his ability to realize where open players against Baylor's 2-3 zone was hard to watch -sometimes, HE was the open player and chose to just stay with his back to the basket and look for an open guy, others someone was wide open and he decided to drive in vain against Acy. He had some defensive mishaps that left his man wide open for easy points and alley-oops. Meanwhile, Davide Curletti played one of his best games as a Wildcat, bringing down several offensive boards against a stout frontcourt, not getting into foul trouble, and only making one very bad pass. (It was very bad, in the press break.) I hope Mirkovic can turn it around and be a modestly productive player with alright rebounding skills and a on-again off-again jumper that he has been in years past, but right now he's a liability.
Overall, I'd say we shouldn't read TOO much into getting absolutely manhandled. It was a loss of Northwestern's own doing: lots and lots and lots and lots of missed open looks and opportunities. Hoping they prove me right.