"They have two guys (E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson) that in June, I was hoping would go in the NBA Draft," joked Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody.
Northwestern featured four scorers in double-figures, led by Juice Thompson's 18 pts. Senior center Luka Mirkovic finished with a career-high 16 pts., including two three-pointers.
Mirkovic had a rough game against St. John's last week, but has responded with a couple great efforts, including his career-high in scoring today. The senior center has made an effort for consistency.
"Basketball is not a sprint, it's a marathon," Mirkovic said. "You got to be consistent. If I have a bad game, I be sure that I bounce back." Purdue made it a challenge for the ‘Cats from the start. E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson combined for 19 pts. in the game's first six minutes, including five three-pointers from Moore.
Northwestern continued to battle in the first half, and cut the Purdue lead down to two late in the half, but the Boilermakers went finished the half on a 12-2 run.
Purdue was poised to take momentum of the game in the second half, but Northwestern refused to back down. The Wildcats went on a run of their own, capped off by a Mike Capocci steal and score, which cut the Purdue lead to four.
Purdue called a timeout, and responded with an 11-3 run, which brought their lead back to 12 points. With the crowd noise becoming a factor, Northwestern's Juice Thompson and Mike Capocci scored seven straight points, which brought the ‘Cats back into the game.
With five minutes remaining in the game, and the ‘Cats down by five points, Mike Capocci missed a layup, and was called for a foul, which changed the momentum of the game. Purdue took control after that point, en-route to the win.
The Wildcats kept fighting, but as Carmody said after the loss, "could not get the big play."
Part of Northwestern's problems came from junior forward Drew Crawford, who finished with just three points, and shot 1-6 from the field. After the game, Bill Carmody admitted that Crawford has struggled recently in practice, and that he gave Crawford some criticism at halftime.
"I spent half of my halftime talk just getting after him to start getting his nose in there, and stop being a cutie pie," Carmody said of Crawford. "I guess it didn't help the shooting, but he was getting loose balls, blocked a couple shots. I think he was much better in the second half, so I hope that continues."
Northwestern received a solid contribution from John Shurna, who has battled an ankle injury, which occurred during the Mount St. Mary's game. Shurna's status was uncertain entering today's game, but he battled through some evident pain, and finished with 11 points.
With Shurna's play down from his usual performance, Northwestern received a strong performance from true freshman JerShon Cobb. Cobb finished with 12 points, and shot 5-11 from the field.
"I'm competitive, and I look forward to a challenge," said JerShon Cobb. "I just want to go out there and get a win, and unfortunately, it didn't happen."
The Wildcats return home for yet another challenge on Monday night, when they host Michigan State at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The road is not easy after that, as the ‘Cats head to Champagne for match with the Illini, and then they square off with a tough Indiana Hoosiers team.
However, the challenging schedule doesn't scare JerShon Cobb. Cobb said of the tough schedule, "That's why I came to the Big Ten."