Jan. 12, 2005
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After a road trip that made the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" seem like a Sunday drive, all NU basketball coach Bill Carmody could do after Wednesday night's 71-61 loss to Michigan was shake his head and talk about "those H guys."
Michigan's "H" guys -- guards Daniel Horton and Dion Harris -- tormented the Wildcats all night. Horton scored a season-high 24 points, while Harris added 17. However, it seemed like every time the Wolverines needed a big play, one of those two guys made it.
The loss wasted a pair of game efforts by NU's Vedran Vukusic and T.J. Parker. Vukusic scored 22 points on the night and was 8-of-13 from the field, while Parker -- seeing his first action since missing the Indiana game and playing just five minutes at Michigan State Saturday due to the flu -- tied a season high with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting (including 3-of-3 from three-point land). Mike Thompson added 12 for the 'Cats.
Michigan (11-5, 2-0 Big Ten) never trailed Wednesday, but did not have command of the game until
scoring six straight points to take a 67-58 lead with 1:52 left.
The Wolverines jumped out to a 10-3 lead to start the game, but Northwestern (8-7, 1-2) drew level at 20-20 with 6:53 to play in the first half. However, Michigan went on an 11-2 run, spurred by a pair of Harris three-point baskets. Parker and Vukusic closed out the first-half scoring, and the Wolverine lead was 31-26 at the break.
U-M used a 7-2 run to start the second half, but NU countered with a 9-0 run that made the score 38-37. However, Courtney Sims keyed an 8-2 run that pushed the Wolverines lead back up to 46-39.
The lead hovered at a few possessions, before Northwestern got five unanswered points from Vukusic -- part of a personal run during which he scored all nine of his team's points -- that cut a 61-53 Michigan lead to 61-58 with 5:32 to play.
More than two minutes went by without either team scoring, before Harris finally got into the lane and swished a short jumper. At the other end, Vukusic was called for a charge when he drove baseline, and Michigan came back with another driving bucket from Harris. That pushed the Wolverines' lead to 65-58, and the 'Cats did not threaten again.
Oh, and about the trip to Ann Arbor? Northwestern was slated to charter a flight Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m., but various mechanical problems and two aborted takeoff attempts -- including one where the plane was in the air but had to turn back to O'Hare -- had the team heading to the Marriott O'Hare for sleep after 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The 'Cats woke up Wednesday morning, but weather pushed their flight back to 2 p.m. (just four hours before tipoff in Ann Arbor), and diverted them from nearby Ypsilanti to Toledo, Ohio. Heavy fog in the area slowed the bus during the trip from Toledo to Ann Arbor, and by the time the team reached Crisler Arena it was only one and a half hours before tip time.
Northwestern is back in action Saturday, hosting the No. 1 team in the country when Illinois comes to town. Tipoff from Welsh-Ryan is slated for 3:30 p.m.; the game has been sold out for months now.