Thursday marked the first time in the career of John Shurna that he did not play. The forward has started each of his 94 games going into Thursday. But still nursing a high-ankle sprain suffered in the December 23rd game with Mount St. Mary's, Shurna received valuable rest, which was much-needed in the midst of a tough stretch for the Wildcats.
Northwestern showed no ill-affects without their leading scorer, but Drew Crawford admitted it just seemed strange without #24 on the court.
"It was a little funny seeing Johnny on the bench," sophomore forward Drew Crawford said. "It's good that he got some rest from that ankle sprain."
Southern Illinois-Edwardsville was able to hang around in the early parts of the game. The Cougars trailed by just three points midway through the first half, but Northwestern closed out the half with a 37-10 run, which led to the rout.
The Wildcats were led in scoring by Drew Crawford, with 16 points. In total, Northwestern received 40 points from the bench. Reggie Hearn and Alex Marcotullio each had double-figures off the bench, while Nick Fruendt and Ivan Peljusic each finished with nine points.
Thursday's game went perfectly for Bill Carmody's Wildcats. They were able to dispose of a weaker opponent without the team's leading scorer, while resting the five starters.
"It worked out just the way you'd like it to work out," NU head coach Bill Carmody said. "We got our guys to play a little bit, and then they got some rest."
With their second win in three days in hand, the Wildcats get two days to prepare for #18 Wisconsin. The Wildcats are still in search of a quality win to boost their résumé, and a date with the Badgers could give the ‘Cats a big win.
Northwestern now has a well-rested team after today's game, and seeks the chance to take down a top-25 opponent.
"That's going to be a big game for us," Crawford said of the Wisconsin game. "Especially being at home, we got to defend our home court. The Big Ten is so tough this year; you have to win at home."