The trademark of a Bill Carmody-coached team has been efficient shooting and disciplined ball handling. Northwestern lacked its identity in a 50-44 loss to UIC.
Northwestern shot just 34.9 percent from the field while tallying 16 turnovers.
"We were getting decent looks," senior forward Drew Crawford said. "Some of the shots we usually hit as a team weren't falling tonight. That's tough."
As for the uncharacteristically high number of turnovers, there wasn't much to say.
"If you ever have turnovers in the teens, it's not a good night," point guard Dave Sobolewski said.
UIC wasn't much better, though. It finished the game shooting 30.9 percent and making just 2 of 14 three-point attempts. So, how did the Flames burn Northwestern?
"Discipline," explained head coach Howard Moore.
An assistant at Wisconsin for five seasons, Moore is familiar with Northwestern's complex offensive system. The Flames were ready to combat the attack, and had success.
Senior forward Drew Crawford led all scorers with 18 points while Reggie Hearn chipped in with 10 points. Aside from that, Northwestern had just three other players record a point. The Wildcats were never comfortable.
A back-and-forth contest came down to the final minutes. Crawford connected on a three-pointer with four minutes remaining, energizing the Welsh-Ryan Arena crowd for the first time. It would be just a brief momentum swing. UIC guard Gary Talton answered back with a layup high off the glass to tie the game at 42 apiece.
The score was tied entering the final minute until UIC center Josh Crittie hit a layup to put UIC on top. The Flames' final three field goals came in the paint as they attacked Northwestern's inexperienced centers.
Northwestern's last chance for a comeback was lost when Sobolewski missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity. As a team, the Wildcats hit 10 of 20 free-throw attempts.
"Free throws are just mental," Sobolewski said. Everybody's got to get in the gym and just take more and more."
As the clock's final seconds ticked away, boos rained down from the disappointed Welsh-Ryan Arena crowd. It's just one loss, but undoubtedly a costly one.
"It's not the end of the world," Sobolewski remarked. "We're hungry to get better. We'll be OK, we'll move on."
The road ahead isn't easy for Northwestern, which travels to battle Baylor on Tuesday night.
"We'll be focused in getting ready for Baylor," said Crawford. "That's a big game for us. You learn from the past game and move onto the next one."