Moore’s big day a good sign

Jake Simpson

The new year was not starting out well for Craig Moore. The junior guard had lost his shooting touch, and, no matter where he looked, from Minnesota to Michigan to Welsh-Ryan Arena, he couldn’t seem find it.

On Wednesday, in a half-filled gym in southwest Chicago, he finally got his stroke back.

He was locked in from behind the arc in NU’s 65-47 win over Chicago State. Moore made six of his nine 3-point attempts and led the team with 22 points.

Moore’s shooting clinic came after four awful shooting nights to start the new year. He shot a combined 15-43 in losses to Penn State, Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan – including an anemic 8-35 from long range. Without Moore’s sharpshooting, opposing defenses were able to survive big games by forward Kevin Coble.

Despite his cold streak, the junior remained upbeat and never lost confidence in his shooting ability.

“We’re not in a slump,” he told THE DAILY Tuesday about himself and senior guard Jason Okrezesik. “We know we’ve got a lot of makes coming up.”

The makes were waiting for him at the Emil and Patricia Jones Convocation Center, where the Cougars collapsed on Coble every time he drove to the basket. That left Moore with a bevy of wide-open looks, and for the first time since December, he delivered.

In the first half, Moore showed flashes of the sweet shot that fell 43.8 percent of the time in the Cats’ first nine games. He hit his first two 3-pointers to keep NU close while Coble’s shots weren’t falling.

Even though Moore bricked his next two attempts, his body language was nothing but positive. You could see his eyes lighting up. I got my shot back. I got my shot back.

The second half was Moore’s ’08 coming out party. His hot shooting sparked NU’s big run, which turned a 24-24 tie into a 38-27 Cats lead. He nailed a pair of treys in less than two minutes and added three more before the buzzer, finishing with 16 of NU’s 41 second-half points. After the game, Moore chuckled when asked about his hot shots.

“About time, right?” he said with a grin.

It remains to be seen whether Moore’s performance was the start of a hot streak or merely a flash in the pan. NU needs its premier outside threat to be just as deadly in conference play as he was on Wednesday.

If he can, the Cats might surprise some people.

Assistant sports editor Jake Simpson is a Medill junior. He can be reached at [email protected]