Mohamed started things off with his energy. He grabbed crucial rebounds, provided a spark to a lackluster NU defense and he had a hand in disrupting the offense of the Gophers of Minnesota. Jitim finished things off with many big-time boards and scoring from all over the floor. Jitim scored 31 points with most of them coming in the second half.
Unfortunately, the first half was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Both teams lacked any spark. NU was suffering from all their usual maladies. They couldn't rebound, they failed to play good interior defense and they missed too many free throws. Talk about a broken record!
Yes, the half ended poorly for the Cats. Jitim missed the front-end of a one and one free throw attempt and the Gophers took the rebound and scored a three-pointer with 2 seconds left. Instead of a lead, the Wildcats were staring down at a four point deficit.
The second half started out the same with both teams just feeling each other out but with about fifteen minutes to go and down by three or four points, Mohamed started making things happen. His energy ignited a fuse under Jitim Young who was then able to score in the open-court. Hachad had 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals and 13 points for the game. NU had 11 steals as a team and forced 17 turnovers by the Gophers. Many of those turnovers led to fast-break points for Jitim who shot 10 for 13 for the game.
Minnesota's Kris Humphries came into the game leading the Big Ten in scoring. He had 11 in the first half but was only able to score 1 in the second half. The Gophers shot only 35% from the floor and 18% from the three-point line.
In the first half, the referees were calling many close calls on NU. In the last 5 minutes of the half, coach Bill Carmody started getting on the refs about the calls and it paid off in spades in the second half. The Cats were in the bonus for the last 11 minutes of the game while the Gophers failed to even get to bonus land.
In short, the Wildcats were able to take advantage of a Gopher team that lacked any energy.
Energy and heart was all it took Saturday, but the Cats will need more of both if they intend to keep on the win side.
Michael Jackson is a Wildcat Fan
who can be found cheering for his team from under the basket.
Beat 'em All!
|Talk about it on the Purple Boards