Although the final outcome was still a loss, it was a much more exciting and interesting loss to Michigan State this time for Northwestern, who took one of their toughest Big Ten opponents down to the final possession.
No wants to believe in nor accept moral victories, but losing to the #18 Spartans, when your star forward John Shurna (the Big Ten’s leading scorer) is clearly not anywhere near himself, is not the worst thing in the world.
By Paul M. Banks
“I just think he’s wasn’t 100% physically tonight. Most of his shots were short, he didn’t seem to have that little pop that you need…he’s a tough kid, he’ll get better,” NU Head Coach Bill Carmody said.
As we got near the 5 minutes left in the game mark, it appeared the issue was no longer in doubt, as Sparty had picked up a double digit lead.
Or so it seemed; right before the comeback began.
The Cats quickly cut it to six inside two minutes. And before you knew it senior point guard Juice Thompson was hitting a big three, slicing the deficit to just three. Defensive stop on the other end, and then back on offense Juice gets loose from the State defense for a back door cut and the lead is just one.
Kalin Lucas misses a free throw on the next possession, but “Dancing Bear” Draymond Green (or Dey-Dey as he’s otherwise known) got the rebound and sent it in.
NU had to get a three to tie, but both offerings (one from Juice, another from Drew Crawford, who led the Cats with 17 points but struggled on 5-16 shooting) fell way short.
Perhaps a perfectly healthy Shurna would have made the difference?
“It definitely seems like he’s in pain, but he played through the pain for us,” Juice Thompson said of Shurna.
It was not unimpressive (double negative intentional) of NU that they lost by one bucket despite being they were out-rebounded by 12, shot just 32% for the game and had a 1-11 from the field Shurna performance.
“I think it’s going to be one of those years for us where nothing’s going to be easy, but I’m not going to let two minutes ruin 38, because I think Northwestern’s a very very good basketball team, I do think Shurna’s not totally healthy right now. I think that leg is bothering him some, he just didn’t seem to move like I’ve seen him move on film,” MSU Coach Tom Izzo said.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
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