the Northwestern Wildcats came out playing big time defense, maybe not sinking their shots, but keeping the Fighting Illini off the scoreboard too.
It seemed like it took 5 minutes for both teams to get rolling, and NU missed 3 - 3 pointers and a jumper before Jitim Young scored the Cats first points at 15:38.
Then Nick Smith came in, hit a shot and away the game went with both teams trading shots until the last few minutes, when Illinois got the lead back for good. Another good effort was by the Illini's Luther Head [AP Photo-Kevin O'Daniell] who played tough defense, including this block on Mohamed Hachad.
The game was very similar to a week ago, when the Cats ran out of gas and lost to MSU, as the Coach said after the game...
...We just got worn out, I think, I don't know, in the second half we don't box out on the foul shot, a little sloppy here and there, but the guys needed a break, Vedran needed a break, Jitim needed a break, and again I thought the effort was pretty good.The beginning of the game could have led to a disaster, as the Cats missed most of their early shots on basket but because of Defense, the Cats stayed in the game...
I wish I had a couple more guys just to give them a breather.
You know, I thought the first half our defense was good , and we seemed as fast as those guys, but second half they seemed to be moving faster.and we're a little late at getting out at things.One of the big matchups was Deron Williams going against Jitim Young - Bob Hildebrand noted that Williams is a very efficient player for Illinois.
I thought a big play was at the end of the half, we steal the ball in a 2-2-1 press and we're up one and then we turn it over. We just told the guys if we get the ball back, lets use the clock a little bit so we go down one if they have 3 or we're working for a shot.
And we turned it over and they hit a 3, we missed, then they hit a 2, so 5 points in a row in the last 50 seconds, I thought that was crucial.
He's a very nice player and he's a point guard, but he's an off guard too -- he's a basketball player and they have a bunch of them out there.It seemed that Jitim Young [AP Photo-Kevin O'Daniell] got a little tired at the end.
And so do we, and I'm disappointed, its just we're not that far away. I thought our guys got a little tired again so they missed a few shots and a little carelessness here and there.
You're right, but I just couldn't move. Maybe I should have put Mike [Jenkins] in there for him somewhere, but when you're in these kind of games you just say you got to go with your bread and butter and Jitim is that.the Illini also started to use a skip pass more which made the Cats extend their defense a little more., but the Cats played hard to the end.
And to his credit he knocked down some shots, he kept us there, but we just didn't have enough. And Powell was moving a lot better around the basket -- again
They were penetrating, and they weren't in the first half - we kept our bodies in front of them, but in the second half, Randall got in there a couple of times and found somebody under the basket, 'cause we had to give too much help.
It was very similar to last week and so I thought we were going to learn something . But I don't know if you can learn anything -- we're just so thin so I just like the effort, and I'll tell the guys just that.So now its Iowa at home and even having the last two at home where the Cats play so well has to help...
It definitely helps and so you have Iowa and we sort of surprised them with a 1-3-1 zone out there so they'll be ready for that, and they're thin themselves - they're only playing about 7 guys maybe 7 1/2, and I hope by Wednesday that Vince Scott's ankle is better.Leading scorer for the Wildcats - both Vedran Vukusic and Jitim Young with 16 each. Mohamed Hachad added 14 and T. J. Parker scored 8. Off the boards, Jitim and Davor Duvancic had 5 each, Mohamed and Ivan Tolic added 4 each as the Cats almost matched the Illini off the glass. Davor had 5 assists. Vukusic and Hachad had 2 steals each.
They said he could go, but I just didn't see -- its going up and down a little and I just didn't see that I should throw him in there.
The Illini were led in scoring by Dee Brown with 20. Nick Smith added 14 and Roger Powell and Deron Williams had 13 each. Luther Head was the big man off the glass with 8 rebounds.
the WGN Post Game Show
with Dave Eanet & David Hildebrand,
and may be edited for clarity
Beat 'em All!
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