Game Notes: Baylor at Northwestern
It got ugly quickly at Welsh-Ryan arena on Sunday.
by Quinn Peterson / @QwinFNP
Northwestern and No. 7 Baylor both entered the game with zero losses, but it didn’t take long for the Bears to prove why they were the better of the two undefeateds. Imposing their will by sheer force, Baylor dismantled Northwestern, cruising to a 69-41 victory.
The Wildcats were no match for the Bears’ ridiculous length and athleticism, who didn’t waste any time taking care of business.
“We played about as bad as you can play offensively and defensively,” said Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody. “We weren’t able to stop them and couldn’t put the ball in the basket. And they had a lot to do with that.”
It was like pros versus joes.
To be sure, in part, it just wasn’t Northwestern’s day. While they likely aren’t 30 points worse than Baylor—”I don’t think we’re that bad, they might be that good,” said Carmody—the numbers really do tell much of this story here.
Many criticize 2-3 zones, but it’s hard to argue with Baylor, whose depth and size across the board makes it an effective weapon. On this day, it held Northwestern to 24 percent shooting from the field, and leading scorers John Shurna and Drew Crawford shot a combined 9-35.
After falling behind 10-2, threes by Crawford and Alex Marcotullio provided some life. Unfortunately, they were their only two of the half, but it wasn’t because they didn’t have looks. The closest the Wildcats got was within three. After that Baylor went on a 19-5 run to head into half with a 38-21 lead.
The zone was the key. Consensus came from all over.
“The most bothersome thing was that we were making shots,” said Crawford. “We were getting some decent looks. They just weren’t falling for us like they usually do, and we have to make shots.”
“To Northwestern’s credit, this is a team that is gonna have a lot of success in the Big Ten this year,” said Baylor head man Scott Drew. “I just think tonight they missed some shots early that were good looks and I think our defense got better as the game went on.”
“That foul line area was wide open and we weren’t able to take advantage of that,” said Carmody. “We should have been taking shots instead of trying to drive into their strength. They average 7 or 8 blocks per game and I’m sure they got that tonight.”
Yep, they did. The Bears had 9 blocks, in fact, six of which belonged to Quincy Acy. He’s “only” 6-7, but anchors the zone that features four wings that stand 6-9 and up.
“He gives us that toughness inside,” said Drew. “He’s very long, blocks shots. The wings are very tough to pass around because they’re long, and when they’re active and working like we today, it’s tough to get shots up.”
“We take it personal in practice guarding each other and making sure we pay constant attention to defense,” said Acy. “Last year, I think that’s what really hurt us. We could put points on the board, but we wouldn’t always defend. Coach made that known to us at the beginning of the year, that we really need to focusing on defending. I think we did a great job of that today but we’ve still got a long way to go, though.”
Baylor’s depth, size and offensive arsenal was on display, as well, as they finished the day shooting 60 percent. Great penetration by JuCo transfer guard Pierre Jackson; threes by Brady Heslip; post-play and alley-oops galore. They made it look it easy and it was.
“Coach expects us to go as hard as we can when we’re in the game and he’ll keep getting fresh bodies in, so we put our trust in him,” said Acy.
Acy and Jackson led the way with 16 points, Perry Jones added 12 and Heslip chipped in 11. Quincy Miller and AJ Walton fell back from scoring for a night and dished out six and five assists, respectively.
“It was great. My whole fam was here. I wasn’t even trying to score, I was just trying to get everybody else involved so that was good,” said Miller after the game (he originally hails from Chicago).
While the Wildcats look to regroup, Baylor will keep on truckin’. Something special could be brewing in Waco, no doubt.
“I’m very blessed,” Drew admitted. “Sometimes people say, ‘how do you manage a lot of people that could have egos’, we just really have good kids and I think they buy into the team.”