Northwestern’s basketball team, off to an undefeated start, dispatched Georgia Tech on Tuesday evening, November 30, as part of the ACC-Big Ten challenge at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston. On what was marketed as “Evanston Day,” a small crowd, many of them disappointed Georgia Tech fans, attended.
Shooting an astonishing 76% in the first half, including a staggering 10 for 12 from behind the three-point arc, the Wildcats scored a club record under 11-year head coach Bill Carmody, scoring 55 points in the first half to build an 18 point advantage at the half. The visiting Yellow Jackets never seriously threatened after the break.
After the game, Coach Carmody praised his team’s performance, saying “We shot the ball extremely well. Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert, from Oak Park, called the game “frustrating.” Even when the team defended well and kept hands in the shooters faces, they still kept “knocking down shots,” he said.
An ESPN marketing vehicle, the ACC-Big Ten challenge pits teams from the Big Ten against schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), considered by experts as the best college basketball conference in the nation. Northwestern’s victory helped propel the Big Ten to only its second-ever victory in the challenge, 6 games to 5.
Northwestern entered a two week break for semester exams with an impressive 5-0 record, including high profile wins over Creighton and Georgia Tech. Though not yet ranked in the top 25 polls, they are receiving votes and interest. The team returns to the hardwood at home on December 13 against Long Island.
Evanston Day did not produce the same excitement that is has for football over the past couple of years. Less than 4,500 fans attended, and according to a Northwestern employee not very many half price Evanston Day tickets were sold. Efforts to convince Mayor Tisdahl and City Manager Bobkiewicz to attend also fell short, and other than on announcement at the beginning of the game there was no indication of “Evanston” in the arena.
If the team keeps winning, however, fans will take notice. Tucked behind the football stadium and invisible from Central Street, there is a tendency to forget that major, high quality college basketball is being played just steps away from Evanston homes. If the team keeps delivering performances like the one they gave against Georgia Tech, it will be impossible to ignore for long.