Jan. 28, 2005
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EVANSTON, Ill. -
It can be argued that, with three minutes left in Wednesday night's game against No. 23/24 Iowa, Northwestern's season was hanging in the balance.
Northwestern vs. Ohio State
Saturday, Jan. 29 * 11:15 a.m.
Welsh-Ryan Arena (Evanston, Ill.)
TV: ESPN+ Regional (Dick Bremer, play-by-play; Greg Kelser, analyst)
Radio: WGN 720 AM (Dave Eanet, play-by-play; Nate Pomeday, analyst)
Losers of four straight Big Ten games, the Wildcats were facing a 12-point deficit -- at home, no less. Suddenly, NU's "home court advantage" seemed to be no more than a mirage, about to be burst for the second straight game.
Consider, then, the amazing sequence of events that took place after that -- deliciously bookended by three-pointers from 5-foot-9 senior walk-on Michael Jenkins.
Junior Vedran Vukusic -- a question mark heading into the game with shoulder problems -- followed Jenkins' first trey by scoring 13 points by himself in a span of 1:32, singlehandedly bringing the 'Cats from a 62-53 deficit to a 66-66 tie. He punctuated his outburst by knocking down three free throws with just 14 seconds left to tie the game. After Iowa missed a final shot, the game improbably went to overtime.
In the extra session, the Hawkeyes answered two free throws from T.J. Parker with a seven-point run, and led 73-68 with 1:40 to play. Vukusic knocked down two foul shots, and then got an easy layup thanks to a spectacular pass on the blocks by Tim Doyle. After Iowa's Greg Brunner made one of two foul shots, the stage was set for Jenkins' second trey -- and pandemonium.
Suddenly, the team's attitude seems to be turned around; the players' body language suggests optimism. Everyone is healthy or off suspension, and back in the lineup.
The key now is to keep the momentum going. The good news is the 'Cats are home again, looking to make Welsh-Ryan Arena a house of horrors for one final Big Ten team -- Ohio State.
Did You Know?
Ohio State remains the only Big Ten team that NU head coach Bill Carmody has not beaten; he is 0-7 against the Buckeyes. But he has been close several times; in fact, NU's average loss margin in the last five games against OSU (6.6) is lower than it is against any other Big Ten team during the last three years except Penn State (2.5 average margin in just two losses to the Nittany Lions).
The Series with Ohio State
Today marks the 149th meeting between the Wildcats and the Buckeyes in men's basketball; Ohio State leads the series, 104-44.
This is the second year in a row NU and OSU have met just once during the regular season; last year, Ohio State defeated the Wildcats 72-64 in Columbus.
Ohio State is the only Big Ten team Bill Carmody has not recorded a win against; he is 0-7 against the Buckeyes, with four of the losses coming by eight points or fewer.