Bill Carmody probably would have killed for a little game of Seven Minutes in Heaven in Minnesota on Sunday. At least somebody could have scored in the first seven minutes of that game. Northwestern went the first 7:46 of their 75-52 loss to the Golden Gophers without a point, missing their first 14 shots in an ugly offensive performance that carried over from their atrocious second half in their Wednesday loss to Wisconsin.
40 – The percentage that Northwestern shot from the free throw line (8-20). Making all of these would not have made up for the 23-point loss, but those misses were emblematic of the shooting during the afternoon. John Shurna, who had missed only one from the line in Big Ten play, was a particularly disappointing 2-8. It was just one of those days.
5 – The number of Wildcat offensive rebounds, three below their average on the season, which is already last in the Big Ten. This was a particularly poor effort for a team that shot as poorly. Northwestern missed 37 shots from the field, meaning they only got second chances on 13.5 percent of those misses.
42 – Minnesota’s points in the paint. The Golden Gophers' best player, forward Trevor Mbakwe, was out on Sunday but you would not have known it based on the way the team scored inside at will. Ralph Sampson III, usually not known for his offensive proficiency, had 10 points, forward Rodney Williams slashed to the lane with ease, as did the rest of Minnesota’s guards. Mbakwe was gone, but he certainly was not needed.
Sixth man of the game: Alex Marcotullio
Even in a blowout loss, there was a positive to take away from the game and that was the play of Marcotullio. The junior guard has had difficulty with an injured toe throughout the year and he missed the Wisconsin loss with a concussion he suffered against Michigan State. But Marcotullio showed none of the effects of past injuries. He was the team’s second leading scorer (11 points) and also led the team in assists, with four, and in offensive rebounds, with three. The return of some depth to the bench was the one encouraging sign in a day that will put many fans back on the pessimism track.
Play of the game:
Joe Coleman’s steal and breakaway dunk. The game was over basically over after Northwestern’s horrendous start but the Coleman dunk was representative of the all around malaise the Wildcats played with throughout most of the game. And in case it happened a little too fast for you to comprehend, the fine folks at Gopher Athletics slowed down the jam for you.
Where does Northwestern stand?
They are now 2-5 in the Big Ten, 10th overall in the conference. It is hard to imagine ten teams from any conference making the NCAA Tournament, and with back-to-back losses like these, the selection committee will not be making any exceptions for the Wildcats. Home games against Purdue and Nebraska are now must-wins unless Northwestern wants to save their hide by winning the Big Ten Tournament.