It looked like another Wildcat Loss Saturday, but then Davor Duvancic started hitting 3s and the NU Defense stepped it up and the Cats never looked back, as they led Wisconsin 36-19 at the half and by as much as 20 points early in the 2nd half.
Forward Vedran Vukusic was the game's top scorer with 18 points [5-9/1-2 3s/7-8 FTs] and 7 rebounds, Jitim Young followed him in scoring with 17 [7 of 11/1 of 4/2-2] and 4 each rebounds, assists and steals. Davor Duvancic had 12 on 4 of 6 3 point shooting along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists..
Guard Mohamed Hachad kicked in 9 points along with 4 rebounds, 2 blocks 2 steals and 3 assists. T.J. Parker scored all his 8 points [including his 500th career point] on 8 freethrows at the end of the game and Evan Seacat, who played much of the first half after Parker got 2 fouls, hit for 5.
After the game, Jitim Young made his way to the scorer's table to talk with WGN's Dave Eanet and David Hildebrand.
The Cats were down 8-2 early, then they turned on the D...
We wanted to pressure the guards and take time from their starting offense. Every time they were coming down the court they would start their offense with :27 seconds and that was a goal we were trying to accomplish today.What was the feeling on the team coming off the Ohio State loss the other day.
I think our energy was tremendous. We really stepped up on defense and it helped the offense a lot.
I don't think we were ready mentally and today was really a match...it was something we really needed today. Wisconsin is definitely a tough team, but we just accepted the challenge.Jitim had to face a great player from Wisconsin, Devon Harris. Did he take that as a personal challenge?
Most definitely, both of us are some of the best players in the country. I accept challenges, and he's been playing great and had the advantage so I took it upon myself to try to stop their best player and I think I contained him well.Harris wound up with a frustrated look and a team leading 16 points for the Badgers...
Its going back to being a leader and not panicking.. I really don't worry too much about things, I know if we do what we're capable of doing we can beat anybody.What was the mood in the Locker Room, up by 17, and unlike other games, you came out and extended that lead.
Every time we go out into the locker room, I learn a lot from Coach Carmody, watching him and watching how he goes about his business and try to do the same thing, and as you know he was just saying just keep up the intensity, and everybody's saying "don't let up, don't let up" but its not so much letting up as it should be just maintain, and that's what we did.What is it about playing here at home....
The Fans, The Fans [Crowd roars] they help us a lot and without them it would be tough to play here.And with that Exit line - Jitim turned it over to the NU Wildcat Coach - Bill Carmody:
Jitim pretty well summed things up, didn't he?
I'll see you guys later...[laughs]What does this win mean...?
We had a terrific practice yesterday, and it was probably one of our best practices, I don't know why, everyone was sharp and executing.It seemed that things really got started for the Cats today on the defensive end -- quick hands and picking up loose balls jump started the offense.
Davor [Duvancic] who was really important today to us [12 Points on 3s] -- Coach Craig Robinson must have fed him 500 shots at the top of the key. That's all he did for about 45 minutes 3 days in a row, he came in for extra shooting during the day after class, so it paid off. Its nice when you see someone works hard at something and there are results.
I think so, and I think that's been the reason for good wins, Illinois, Iowa, it seems like our defense generates something and then we get going and this is a terrific team -- Wisconsin -- and we just kept saying if we try to pressure the ball, whoever is playing the ball at the time, make sure they can't see.The Cats kept the same 5 players in at the end of the game until the very end, was it trying to stay with the guys who built the lead for you?
It looked to me in the first half there were some openings they had, but they couldn't quite -- you know -- a guy would be open for 2 seconds at the baseline, but Jitim [Young] and Mohamed [Hachad] especially , T. J. [Parker] seemed to bother the passers a little bit and that helps your defense.
It was just going good so, it really never entered my mind. Evan [Seacat] gave us a nice little -- T.J. [Parker] got some fouls in the first half -- he ran through some stuff and knocked down a 3 there, got a couple of rebounds -- he gave us a little boost there, but it just seemed to be going nicely, so why mess around with it..What do you tell your club at the half?
We just said...our defense was generating the offense like you mentioned and just keep pressuring the passers and stay on the backboards .In the 2nd half you didn't let Wisconsin get a 7-0 or 9-0 or a 12-0 run going.
You know we get out rebounded by almost everyone -- at Ohio State it was even, tonight it was very close [28-27], but that's because we made shots. You miss shots, they have a better chance at getting the rebounds -- its a simple as that, so when you make shots, you don't get out rebounded and we made 'em today.
I think it was Harris or someone hit a 3 here and it was getting a little crazy and maybe got to 10 and all of a sudden Vedran [Vukusic] got to knocking them down in front of our bench and that seemed to just quiet things and give us a little more confidence.And Bill Carmody left to a major ovation.
Next up is a trip to West Lafayette and a bout of Keadyball against Purdue on Wednesday.
the WGN Post Game Show with Dave Eanet & David Hildebrand,
and may have been edited for clarity
Beat 'em All!
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