It was an even match for most of the first half with nine ties and ten lead changes. The Wildcats' motion offense was clicking in the first half and afforded open looks from the outside as well as points in the paint on back-door cuts.
With 4:30 remaining in the first half and Northwestern leading 25-24, Michigan freshman guard Daniel Horton stole the ball from Northwestern's Davor Duvancic and streaked down court with the ball. Speedy Wildcat freshman guard T.J. Parker [NU Photo left] dashed in front of Horton, who missed his layup attempt. Parker, who appeared to pass a foot in front of Horton, was called for a foul and then charged with a technical foul after arguing the call.
Michigan took a 26-25 on the technical free-throws, yet the incident seemed to light a fire under Northwestern. The Wildcats went on to a 15-7 run to close out the first half and took an 8-point lead into the locker room.
Northwestern's first play of the second half was a spectacular alley-oop slam dunk by junior guard Jitim Young [right] on a pass from fellow guard Parker. The play, just 11 seconds into the second half, sent the home crowd into a frenzy and extended Northwestern's lead to 10 points.
The lead quickly diminished as the Wolverines scored 7 points in the next 47 seconds on a run started by a Daniel Horton three-point field goal.
Michigan tied the game at 45 with 15:36 to play on a Lester Abrams three. The teams continued to exchanged leads, but Michigan's Daniel Horton remained hot from beyond the arc in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats could not find their range or many rebounds and Michigan pulled ahead by as many as 9. The Wildcats made a late charge, but ultimately fell by 7 points.
The loss dropped Northwestern's record to 8-7 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten. Michigan improved to 12-6 and 0-4 in the Big Ten after starting the season 0-6.
Northwestern was led in scoring by their starting guards Jitim Young and T.J. Parker, each with 20 points. Michigan was led by Daniel Horton, who is averaging 19 points per game in Big Ten play.
Living and dying by the three
The Wildcats shot 54 percent from beyond the arc on 7-of-13 shooting in the first half on their way to an 8-point halftime lead. In the second half, however, the Wildcats connected on only one-of-six attempts and were outscored by 15 points. Michigan shot 42 percent from three-point territory on the game. The Wildcats have had difficulty stopping their opponents' best three-point shooters all season.Winston back on track?
Senior forward Winston Blake [right] was removed from the Wildcats' starting lineup and replaced by freshman Jimmy Maley. Winston, the Wildcats' lead scorer from the past two seasons, has been struggling desperately from long range for well more than a month. Coming off the bench on Saturday, Winston canned every shot he took with two scores from beyond the arc, one in the paint, and one more at the free-throw line. All of Winston's points came in the first half. He did not attempt a shot and fouled out in the second half.
Another freshman added to the mix
Wildcat fans were excited to see another fresh face added to the rotation in freshman guard Mohamed Hachad. [left] Mohamed displayed athleticism and flare in his previous outings, but also demonstrated a tendency towards turnovers. Saturday, Mohamed exhibited the potential to be a play-maker and major contributor for the Wildcats.The upcoming tilt
Soon after entering the game, Mohamed calmly buried a three off the dribble from the top of the key and scored on a back-door pass a minute later. While he was faked out badly twice to allow open three-point shots and missed an open layup, Mohamed was extremely active on defense and came up with a game-high three steals in his 11 minutes of playing time. The Canadian guard figures to see more and more playing time as the season and his Northwestern career progress.
After the game, Northwestern Head Coach Bill Carmody said, "When [Mohamed's] out there, it's like he's in on every play." Carmody added that he and his staff will "start throwing him in [more]."
The Wildcats have an entire week off before traveling to Minnesota to face the Golden Gophers next Saturday, January 25. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Go Cats - Beat 'em All!
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