Nov. 23, 2005
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Northwestern (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at DePaul (0-1, 0-0 Big East)
Allstate Arena (18,500)
Radio: WGN (720 AM), the flagship station of Northwestern men's basketball (Dave Eanet, play-by-play; Bob Hildebrand, analyst).
EVANSTON, Ill.--The Wildcats, 3-1 for the first time in three years, will look to ride the hot hand of senior Vedran Vukusic (25.8 ppg) when Northwestern travels to take on DePaul (0-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.
Northwestern is coming off a 69-59 win over Florida Atlantic Monday night where Vukusic once again led the way with a game-high 27 points. He scored 10 of NU's final 12 points, including a key dunk with a minute to go after FAU had cut Northwestern's double-digit lead to four. Vukusic has been lights out from the field, shooting 54 percent from three-point range and 60 percent overall this season.
DePaul lost its only game of the season to Bradley, 75-60, back on Nov. 19 at Allstate Arena. Sophomore forward Kerron Clarke and junior forward Marcus Heard led the Blue Demons with 19 and 15 points, respectively.
A Glance at the Wildcats
Vedran Vukusic is off to a red-hot start in helping the Wildcats to their best season start in three years. The senior from Croatia is averaging 25.8 ppg (second in the Big Ten) and has hit the big shots for the 'Cats in each of the three wins this season.
In the season-opening win over Lehigh, Vukusic drained the go-ahead baseline jumper with 12.8 seconds left as the Wildcats came back from a double-digit deficit to defeat the Mountain Hawks at the BCA Invitational.
In the surprise win over Charlotte the following night, Vukusic scored a season-high 28 and connected on 5-of-7 treys to turn away any possible comeback chance by the 49ers.
Then on Monday against Florida Atlantic, with his team desperately needing a bucket, Vukusic drove the lane and delivered a thunderous dunk while getting fouled for a three-point play to put NU back out in front by seven. This after the Wildcats' lead had shrunk from 19 to four with under two minutes to go.
Tim Doyle has been solid through the first four games, averaging a team-best 5.7 assists per game. Doyle had a season-high 14 points in the season-opener vs. Lehigh and added 13 in the win over FAU Monday night.
Senior Mohamed Hachad has cleaned up on the glass, averaging a team-best 6.3 rebounds per game, including nine in the win over Charlotte, tying his personal best. He is averaging 8.0 points and has seven steals on the year. Fellow classmate Michael Jenkins is averaging 3.0 points and 3.3 rebounds from his point guard position while Vince Scott has given NU a nice lift off the bench with nearly four rebounds and five points per game.
The Northwestern bench had a breakout game in the win over FAU Monday night as freshman Craig Moore and redshirt freshman Sterling Williams scored their first points in a Wildcats uniform with nine and four points, respectively. Bernard Coté has played in every game, averaging 2.0 points per game with two treys.
Climbing the Charts
With his 27 points against Florida Atlantic, Vukusic moved up two spots into 16th place on the Northwestern all-time scoring list with 1,151 points, passing Frank Ehmann (1,145) and Brian Schwabe (1,150). Vukusic started the year 24th with 1,048 points and has 103 so far this season.
'Cats Looking For Best Start Since 2001
With a win vs. DePaul, Northwestern will improve to 4-1 for the first time since 2001 when the Wildcats started 7-1.
DePaul is 0-1 on the young season, losing its season-opener to Bradley, 75-60. Sophomore Kerron Clarke and junior Marcus Heard led DePaul with 19 and 15 points, respectively.
The Blue Demons, who enter their first season as a member of the Big East Conference, return two starters and eight letterwinners back from last year's team that went 20-11 and shared the Conference USA title with a 12-4 league mark. They advanced to the second round of the NIT where they lost to Texas A&M.
The Series With DePaul
Saturday's game is the 26th meeting between the two schools, with the Blue Demons owning a 17-8 lead in the all-time series. Northwestern won last year's meeting 56-52 in Evanston but have only won once in eight tries against the Blue Demons at Allstate Arena, 58-56 back on Dec. 7, 1996.
DePaul Mentor Jerry Wainwright
Jerry Wainwright comes to DePaul after 11 successful seasons as a head coach including the last three at Richmond. His career record is 186-145 (.564) and he has taken his teams to six postseason tournaments (three NCAA and three NIT).
Wainwright started his head coaching career at UNC Wilmington from 1994-2002 before moving on to Richmond. He took UNC Wilmington to the NCAA Tournament on two occasions and led Richmond to one NIT and one NCAA bid during his tenure.
Vukusic Atop Big Ten Scoring List
Though early, Vedran Vukusic has established himself as a prime candidate for top conference honors this season. He is currently second in the Big Ten in scoring with 25.8 ppg and ranks among the conference leaders in three-point field goal percentage (10th, .542), three-pointers per game (6th, 3.25) and minutes played (3rd, 37.25).
Other Wildcats among the Big Ten statistical leaders include Tim Doyle who is eighth with 5.75 assists and 13th with 32.0 minutes per game.
Mohamed Hachad is 16th in rebounding with a team-best 6.3 caroms and 15th with 1.75 steals per game. Mike Thompson is seventh with 1.00 blocks per game.
Magic No. 60
Northwestern is 3-0 this season when they score at least 60 points. The only game the 'Cats did not reach 60 was the BCA Championship game vs. UNC Wilmington when they scored 48.
The Wildcats have held all of their opponents to under 60 points, including a tournament-low 47 to Charlotte in the BCA semifinals.
The 55.2 points per game given up by the Wildcats this season is good for third in the Big Ten in scoring defense.
Last Time Out: NU 69, FAU 59
Vedran Vukusic scored 27 points and Tim Doyle added 13 points and six assists to lead Northwestern to a 69-59 victory over Florida Atlantic on Monday night. Northwestern (3-1) never trailed and jumped out to a 14-3 lead. Vukusic scored eight points in that spurt and had 14 by halftime to give Northwestern a 36-23 lead.
Northwestern's largest lead, 44-25, came with 16:53 left in the second half after Vukusic found Doyle for a backdoor layup. But Florida Atlantic cut the lead to 58-54 with 1:17 left on Simmons' reverse layup, but Vukusic answered with a three-point play with 59 seconds left, giving the Wildcats a 61-54 lead.
Vince Scott added seven points and nine rebounds for Northwestern while freshman Craig Moore added nine off the bench.