Five Turnovers: NU struggles again

It was a game to forget for Northwestern. A 70-50 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes illustrated the young team's many issues. PurpleWildcats gives a breakdown of where the Wildcats stand.

Controversy at center?

Alex Olah has struggled on offense in recent games. Still, it seemed odd that coach Bill Carmody started his backup Mike Turner to begin the second half. Olah played only 11 minutes in the 70-50 loss.

Turner did provide a spark, giving the team some of his most effective minutes in weeks. The last thing this team needs, though, is for Olah – just a true freshman – to lose confidence. The defense is not quite there, and his short-range shooting has tailed off, but Olah is the future of this frontcourt.

It might just signify a temporary shift to the doghouse. Turner restored some of his confidence in the blowout loss, and it could provide a useful message to the freshman. Regardless, I'm skeptical of the decision and its implications.

Ineffectiveness from Marcotullio

Alex Marcotullio, a three-point specialist, is shooting just 25 percent from behind the arc this season. While Reggie Hearn has been a senior leader on and off the court, Marcotullio continues to struggle.

After a quite promising sophomore season in which he scored 6.2 points per game, Marcotullio is failing to produce. The shots aren't falling, he fouls at a shockingly high rate, and looks like a much poorer option than Tre Demps in the backcourt.

Hopefully for the Wildcats, he can rediscover his shooting stroke and give the team a lift late in the season. Right now, it's not pretty.

Swopshire steps back

I wrote on Thursday nigh that I looked forward to Sunday (wrong), and attributed much of that excitement to Jared Swopshire's strong play at Penn State. He was aggressive, poured in 17 points (including six free throws), and I expected that to carry over to Sunday's matchup.

It didn't. Swopshire had arguably his weakest performance of the entire season. He appeared a step behind in the 1-3-1, made just one field goal, and finished with two points in 27 minutes. For NU to compete in Big Ten play, it seems critical for Swopshire to show some form of consistency. Carmody said as much after the game. Tonight just added to Swopshire's list of underwhelming efforts.

Veterans fail to step up

Following the past two home contests, Carmody has said that the team needs more from its veterans. This afternoon, they failed to produce, and certainly lacked a star performance.

As mentioned before, Alex Marcotullio and Jared Swopshire labored through poor outings. They produced very little offensively ­– a combined 2-of-11 shooting. Reggie Hearn missed four free throws and went 2-of-6 from the floor. It is only natural that key freshmen like Olah and Kale Abrahamson take time to settle in. Carmody is counting on his seniors to steady the team. As the 20-point Iowa got out of hand, the veterans could not stop the bleeding.

Uneven defense

Although the Northwestern offense stumbled to an awful 15-point first half, defense kept the team competitive. They pressured Iowa on the perimeter and did not allow a three-point field goal. They were fairly aggressive on the interior, and appeared on their way to a low-scoring contest.

Then, just like against Minnesota, the floodgates opened. The Hawkeyes scored 45 points – including 25 during a span of 7 minutes and 19 seconds – to seal the outcome. But it differed from Minnesota in that Iowa did not rely on the three-point field goal. They attacked the Wildcats, picked up the tempo, and rode Aaron White en route to an easy win. The Cats can slow opponents for 20 minutes. Holding an offense down for the entire game has proven to be a whole other challenge.

Follow on Twitter: @NicholasMedline

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