It was Davor Duvancic's final home game, and maybe Michael Jenkins' too. Vedran Vukusic scored his 1,000 point on the way to a team leading 17 as the Wildcats closed to within 5 in the final minutes of the game.
But MSU's shooting, including Maurice Ager's 4 of 5 from the arc, kept the Cats at bay and some key Paul Davis rebounds at the end slammed the door.
Vedran Vukusic struggled from outside [1 of 6], but finished with 17 points on 7 of 16 shooting from the field. T.J. Parker had 3 point troubles [1 of 4], but still finished with 14 points and 3 steals. Mohamed Hachad continued his good play with 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals.
5-11 Mike Jenkins led all the Cats in rebounding with 6. Duvancic finished with 5 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists.
It was also a game where NU Coach Bill Carmody was ejected, and reports were that he had to be restrained by T.J. Parker as he argued a lack of fouls called against the Spartans right before the half. The Cats had been outscored 37-22 by MSU, but they did come back and outscore the Spartans 36-32 in the 2nd half.
After the game, Acting Head Coach Paul Lee stepped up to talk with WGN's Dave and Dave - He was asked about the Cat's comeback...
PL: You can not fall 15 points behind a team like Michigan State - they're going to make enough shots and get enough turnovers to get back in the game like that especially if we continue to miss freethrows the way we did. [The Cats shot 52.4% from the line]What were Coach Carmody's objections to the play that caused his ejection?
Leaving those points there on the court without getting that was huge.
I thought the first half we were a little tight - we missed a lot of easy shots that we've been making. You know, Vedran was missing open 3-s and we missed two layups that would have kept us close and we wouldn't have had to come back from so far a deficit.
PL: Well, you know we're not a physical team and he thought there were some things being let go, more than calls being made, there was stuff being let go, I think Coach was most upset about.
Then they finally called a post foul and instead of just calling it on Davis they called a double foul - even then they're starting to call them but you' still just breaking even. I think that's how - more non-calls than the actual call.
What about Free Throws - How do you turn it around?
PL: I was just talking with Coach earlier today about the fact that as bad as bad as we've shot free throws it hasn't really cost us a game.How about the rebounding?
I guess if you believe in the whammy, there you go.
You know, we work on free throws. We shoot an awful lot of free throws, but doing it in practice and doing it in games, it becomes a mental thing more than anything else.
I work out with T.J. three times a week outside of what we usually do and when I have him he shoots 90% from the line and this year he's shooing something like 50% in games so its not like actual practice I think its more of a mental thing.
PL: We tell our guys, there's a guy who's All American and he's working his tail off trying to get rebounds so he's not happy just trying to be in the flow of the game - he's doing everything extra, the extra effort it takes to get those balls they were getting to.Talk about how Mo Hachad came in in the 2nd half and energized the team...
You know they weren't those big strong rebounds above the rim, he was chasing those things down. Those things that come down below the rim, we should be able to get those, a 6-10 guys shouldn't be tracking those down.
PL: That's a product of what he's done in practice, when he had that bad stretch of games there, January into February, he wasn't even practicing well so he's come and brought it in practice, its evident there and its probably something like we'll keep him coming off the bench because he gives us such a big lift.Saturday its Indiana, but they're a different team now..
PL: You know them beating Michigan State at home in overtime, and last night, if not for a few calls probably could have beaten Wisconsin on the road as well, so its definitely a different team and we're a different team.So it comes down to the Final Game at Indiana, Saturday, 3:30 for a shot at finishing the season over .500.
We're playing a different style, we don't have Michael Thompson any more - he was a big part of that win for us against Indiana - he had 18 points in that game, so we're going to have to try to figure out some way to finally win in Assembly Hall, where we've never won before otherwise we're going to be forced to win 2 games in the Big 10 Tournament, to be Post Season eligible.
the WGN Post Game Show
with Dave Eanet & Dave Kaplan
and may have been edited for clarity
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