EVANSTON, Ill. — When they're sizzling in practice, Luka Mirkovic figures Northwestern's best shooters will make about 70 percent of their 3-pointers.
In a game?
This is about as good as it gets.
John Shurna scored 21 points, Drew Crawford added 19 and Northwestern hit a blistering 12 of 19 3s in a 91-71 victory over Georgia Tech in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats (5-0) buried 31 of 48 overall and were particularly on target from the outside, with Shurna and Crawford leading the onslaught.
"It was crazy," said Mirkovic, Northwestern's center. "We just shoot a ton of 3s. For our warmup each practice, we have this exercise ... where we just shoot a lot of 3s, so I'm not surprised that those went in."
Shurna hit 7 of 8 shots, including all four 3s. Crawford converted 8 of 11 overall and 3 of 5 from long range. Michael Thompson added 14 points and four assists, giving him 403 in his career and making him the second Northwestern player to pass 400 assists.
Alex Marcotullio hit 3 of 5 3-pointers while scoring 13, and the Wildcats matched the program record they set last year for wins in November.
They're off to their best start since the 1993-94 team won its first nine, and with their eyes on their first NCAA appearance after making the NIT the last two seasons, they just passed a tough early test.
"We're just trying to build and get that momentum going," coach Bill Carmody said.
Georgia Tech (4-3) got 16 points from Glen Rice and 11 each from Iman Shumpert, who grew up in nearby Oak Park, Ill., and Maurice Miller. But Brian Oliver struggled in a big way after a career performance against Syracuse. He went from scoring a personal-best 32 in a loss to the Orange to managing just three on just 1-for-9 shooting.
"There were some things I probably could have done differently with my shot," he said.
There wasn't much they could do about the Wildcats, though. Open or guarded, they simply weren't missing.
"It was frustrating," Shumpert said.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt got his first career win at Welsh-Ryan Arena when Siena beat Northwestern early in the 1997-98 season, but he'd probably just as soon forget this one.
In the first meeting between these programs, the Wildcats simply came out firing.
They hit an incredible 10 of 12 3-pointers and 22 of 29 shots while building a 55-37 halftime lead and got a loud ovation as they headed to the locker room.
"Great performance, a great shooting performance," Hewitt said.
Shurna and Crawford gave the fans plenty to cheer, scoring 13 each and going 3 of 3 from long range in the half.
Marcotullio had it going, too, knocking down 3 of 4 3s while scoring 10. That included a four-point play with 1:21 late in the half when he got knocked to the floor by Rice while burying one from the right side and hit the free throw to make it 53-34.
That was one of many highlights in a half that left the fans roaring.
The way Northwestern was shooting, it was easy to forget that Georgia Tech actually led 13-5 in the opening minutes, but the Wildcats quickly turned that around. Then, with a 30-25 lead midway through the half, they broke it open with a 17-2 run.
Mirkovic started it with a layup, and Crawford and Shurna hit 3s to make it 38-25. After a basket by Georgia Tech's Jason Morris, Thompson buried two jumpers, Crawford converted a put-back and Marcotullio capped the run with a 3 that made it 47-27 with 3:08 left in the half.
"Even with hands in the face and everything, they were just knocking them down," Oliver said. "It was kind of something you almost shrug your shoulders at because what can you do? They're making tough shots, and they kept making tough shots."