Men’s Basketball Sidebar: Northwestern dies from behind the arc

Dan Ryan

All season long, the Wildcats have lived and died by the three.

Wednesday was a case of the latter.

Northwestern, down only two at halftime, was overwhelmed by Wisconsin in the second half as the Badgers hit seven threes in the final period to rout NU 77-57. Highlighting Wisconsin’s hot shooting was guard Jordan Taylor, who was 4-4 from beyond the arc in the second half.

Coach Bill Carmody said the Cats did their best to defend the Badgers on the perimeter.

“No, we really weren’t willing to give it up,” Carmody said. “We had some bad defensive plays the first few possessions of the game. John helped out when he didn’t have to help out. It seemed like about four of them were definitely things we could have corrected. But the ones against Taylor, I told Drew and John that they’re both good scorers and good players. But if you want to be an elite player, you have to make your team win. And I thought that kid (Taylor) did today.”

NU held pace with Wisconsin’s shooting in the first half, going 60 percent from behind the arc to the Badgers’ 50 percent. But down by two beginning the second period, the Cats switched from the man defense that enjoyed decent success in the first half.

Despite not playing the 1-3-1 zone in the opening frame, Carmody turned to it to start the second, which was all the opportunity Wisconsin needed. The Badgers took advantage of the defensive switch, hitting their first four threes to open the frame.

“I didn’t want to go to (the 1-3-1),” Carmody said. “I thought, ‘Don’t give open threes to these guys,’ which we didn’t prevent them from doing. Then they started posting up a number of different guys and we just didn’t seem to be able to handle it…and they were scoring inside on us a little bit too much.”

Junior forward Drew Crawford said he believed the defensive breakdown stemmed from a lack of intensity from the Cats.

“Either defense that we’re in, we have to bring the effort,” Crawford said. “I don’t think we were able to do that to start the second half. I don’t know that it was necessarily the defense that we were in.”

Taylor, who had only three points in the first half, ignited a run with his hot shooting that NU simply could not overcome. Wisconsin hit 12 threes in the game, which accounted for 46.8% of the team’s offense.

“We didn’t defend the three, simple as that,” freshman guard Dave Sobolewski said. “They hit four threes on us, and we turned the ball over a couple times. It kind of snowballed on us after that.”

“They haven’t shot that well in a long time, but at the same time they got good looks,” Sobolewski added. “And we weren’t converting on the other end.”

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