Wildcats opened their Big Ten season with a 68-63 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston Wednesday night."> Wildcats opened their Big Ten season with a 68-63 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston Wednesday night.">

Northwestern vs. Iowa Post-Game Digest

The <b>Northwestern <font color="#330033">Wildcats </font></b>opened their Big Ten season with a 68-63 loss to the <b>Iowa Hawkeyes</b> at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston Wednesday night.

The Wildcats had to utilize their motion offense to create points in the paint due to cold outside shooting.  Despite the absence of a consistent outside game, the Wildcats exchanged leads with Hawkeyes throughout the first half before heading to the locker room down two, 38-36. 
Northwestern regained the lead in the first nine seconds of the second half on a three-point play when Jitim Young [NU Photo Left] cut under the basket, powered in a lay-up, collected a foul, and converted the free-throw.

The lead, however, quickly became a distant memory for the Wildcats.  The Hawkeyes tightened their defense, gained momentum on offense, and rolled to a 16-point lead with 9:08 to play, 61-45.

The Wildcats began to chip away at the Iowa lead with points off steals, open back-door cuts to the basket, and strong post play by senior center Aaron Jennings [right], who led the Wildcats in scoring with 16 points.

After trapping Iowa's Glen Worley at half-court and forcing a double-dribble call, Northwestern got the ball back down only 65-61 with 1:45 to play.  

Senior forward Jason Burke hit fellow senior forward Winston Blake with a no-look pass as Blake was drifting unguarded down the lane towards the basket with 1:16 to play.  Blake converted the lay-up and cut the lead to two points, 65-63.

Jennings tied up Iowa's Worley under the Iowa basket on the following possession.  With the possession arrow in their favor, the Wildcats got the ball back with under a minute to play and a chance to tie the game or take the lead.

Blake [left] launched a three-point attempt to take the lead with 35 seconds to play, but the shot went wide.  With time running out, Northwestern was then forced to foul Iowa to stop the clock.

The Hawkeyes connected on only one of their next six free-throw attempts, giving the Wildcats two more opportunities to tie the game with a three-point shot.  Jennings missed a potential game-tying shot with 21 seconds to play, and Burke was called for a traveling beyond the top of the arc on the following possession with under 5 seconds to play to seal the Hawkeye victory.

The loss drops the Wildcats' record to 8-4.  Northwestern has not won their conference opener since the 1982-83 season.  Iowa, meanwhile, snapped a 12-game conference road losing streak and improved to 9-3.

Sharp-shooters not very sharp
Outside shooting has been a problem for the Wildcats lately.  Northwestern sharp-shooting forward starters Jimmy Maley and Winston Blake were a combined 1-of-10 from beyond the arc Wednesday night against Iowa.  Winston, the Wildcats' leading scorer from the past two seasons, has drained only one of his last 20 three-point attempts.
A new starting lineup?
After the game, Northwestern Head Coach Bill Carmody talked about changing the starting lineup.  He commented that after Jason Burke lost his place in the starting lineup earlier this season, he began to play better.  The Wildcats' coach is hoping for a similar reaction with forwards Winston Blake and Jim Maley.  Coach Carmody is considering replacing Winston with sophomore Davor Duvancic.  Coach Carmody admitted that Davor is not much of an outside shooter, but added, "With the way Winston's shooting, what's the difference?"  

Jimmy Maley may also be taking a seat on the bench as Jason Burke returns to the starting lineup.  Wednesday night, Jimmy scored 3 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, and dished out 3 assists without turning the ball over.  Jason, meanwhile, scored 11 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, dished out 6 assists, and turned the ball over twice, including the traveling violation in the closing seconds of the game.

Thomas, we hardly knew ye

Sophomore center Thomas Soltau withdrew from Northwestern this week to pursue a professional basketball career in his native Denmark.  At 6'11", Thomas is a gifted athlete and talented outside shooter, but was unable to develop enough of an inside game to log significant playing time at
Northwestern.  In his one-and-a-half seasons as a Wildcat, Thomas watched smaller teammates back up Aaron Jennings at center.  "We wish Thomas all the best in his future basketball pursuits," said Coach Carmody.
The upcoming tilt
The Wildcats travel to West Lafayette, IN to face the Boilermakers of Purdue this Saturday, January 11.  Tip-off is scheduled for 11 a.m. CST.
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